“This might be funny if these were not the people running our justice system,” says Dinah Rose QC, as fellow top lawyers round on MoJ in Twitter storm
The Ministry of Justice’s tweet about Friday’s High Court ruling on the legal aid consultation process lacks the mainstream appeal of these celeb embarrassments (and is neither libellous nor sexually explicit). But in its own niche way it is just as awful, managing to wreak reputational self-harm with the awesome efficiency of the very best sub-140 character howlers.
For the uninitiated, at the end of last week the High Court ruled that the Ministry of Justice’s consultation process for cutting legal aid was so unfair that it was illegal. This was unequivocally bad news for justice secretary Chris Grayling and his MoJ pals.
How, then, to impart such unfortunate information?
The answer to this question should have been obvious given the core audience of top QCs, other legal high-fliers and well-informed members of the public which the MoJ was addressing: play it straight and admit defeat in this particular battle.
Alas, the MoJ chose to behave as if it was addressing a group of primary school children and opted to gloss over a few facts while adding a veneer of upbeat-ness.
JR not wholly successful. Challenge to fee cut failed. Judgment raises some technical issues on consultation process which we're considering
— MoJ Press Office (@MoJPress) September 19, 2014
Here are a selection of eminent lawyers’ responses.
Doughty Street’s Jon Whitfield QC
@MoJPress Cut the crap – what about this bit?? "so unfair as to result in illegality." All familiar to CG – unlawful, unjust, unfair
— Jon Whitfield QC (@jonwhitfieldqc) September 19, 2014
St Pauls Chambers’ Simon Myerson QC
.@MoJPress That's untrue. You didn't disclose necessary evidence. Your witness said it didn't matter because the LC wasn't listening anyway.
— Simon Myerson QC (@SCynic1) September 19, 2014
Financial Times legal blogger David Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) and Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC
— Dinah Rose (@DinahRoseQC) September 19, 2014
Garden Court’s Tom Wainwright
@MoJPress Unfairness and illegality are not 'technical issues'. That tweet sums up everything wrong with the current MoJ.
— Tom Wainwright (@wainwright_tom) September 19, 2014
Pump Court’s Matthew Scott
.@MoJPress The "technical issue" being that Court found Mr Grayling (the named Defendant) acted "unfairly". Through your spin he still is.
— Matthew Scott (@Barristerblog) September 19, 2014
1 KBW’s Philip Marshall QC
— PJM QC (@pjm1kbw) September 19, 2014
Hardwicke’s Colm Nugent
Ministry of Justice latest tweet: Fred West 'not entirely guilty'; but did have some 'technical planning issues' regarding his patio.
— Colm Nugent (@Wigapedia) September 19, 2014
The MoJ Press Office is definitely worth a follow.