Dominic Grieve QC replaced by a non-silk who promotes his ability to video-conference with the best of them
Jeremy Wright was met with a resounding cry of “Who he?” this morning as he slipped into the Whitehall offices of the attorney general to begin his role of overseeing the Director of Public Prosecutions and beefing up lenient sentences handed down by woolly-headed liberal judges.
As a sample of legal profession tweets illustrates, Wright — a relative child at 41, who was called to the bar at Inner Temple in 1996 — has hardly set the legal profession ablaze, despite being a non-practising member of the biggest chambers in the country, No5 in Birmingham.
“I know absolutely nothing about our new attorney general,” tweets one silk. Indeed, the two most remarkable points about Wright appear to be that he is not a QC and he claims to be highly proficient in video conferencing.
The legal sector Twitterati has landed on the second point with glee and mocking delight — the general view being that these days just about everyone at the bar has had to deal with new communications technology at some stage.
“The new attorney general has done video links,” quips one social media commentator. “I guess the first step to becoming AG is to have Skype.”
Another sarcastically comments: “Reassuring that new AG Jeremy ‘who he?’ Wright has ‘experience in cases using a video link’”.
Another black mark for fresh-faced Wright is that he is replacing legal profession matinee idol Dominic Grieve QC. As the Law Gazette pointed out, Grieve “was regarded in the legal community as a sympathetic voice in the cabinet over such issues as cuts in legal aid. He has also spoken in support of the Human Rights Act.”
The Guardian newspaper noted that Wright — the MP for West Midlands seat Kenilworth and Southam since 2005 — has so far kept his cards close to his chest on the issue of whether the UK should ditch the Human Rights Act.
Wright was appointed as a junior justice minister two years ago with responsibility for prisons and rehabilitation. Politically, the main point commentators highlight is that he appears to be a bit of a government yes-man, not raising a whimper of protest over the proposed HS2 railway, which is planned to blast through his constituency.
One legal profession constituent tweeted the robust view that Wright is “useless”, slamming him for having “fully supported all cuts & gov & Grayling attacks” on legal aid and criminal law specialist barristers, despite himself being a member of the Criminal Bar Association.
Another Twitter wag compares the new AG to the chauvinistic and misguidedly self-important character of Ron Burgundy from the 2004 film “Anchorman”. Says the tweeter: “He has many leather bound books and his apartment smells of rich mahogany. He’s kind of a big deal.”