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The Ministry of Justice has done one of the worst tweets ever seen on Twitter

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“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

facepalm-old

Since the advent of Twitter in 2006, there have been some extremely unfortunate tweets. Sally Bercow’s Lord McAlpine posting springs to mind, as does the recent Ian Botham penis affair.

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.

Here are a selection of eminent lawyers’ responses.

Doughty Street’s Jon Whitfield QC

St Pauls Chambers’ Simon Myerson QC

Financial Times legal blogger David Allen Green (aka Jack of Kent) and Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC

Garden Court’s Tom Wainwright

Pump Court’s Matthew Scott

1 KBW’s Philip Marshall QC

Hardwicke’s Colm Nugent

The full judgment in the solicitors’ case against the MoJ is below, with summaries in the Guardian and the Law Society Gazette.

The Queen on the Application of Lccsa Clsa v the Lord Chancellor

The MoJ Press Office is definitely worth a follow.


7 Comments

@The_bounder

Shocked and saddened that you did not include my measured and carefully considered response of, “what the actual f**k”

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@Zebedee3520

To be fair @the_bounder, there were so many of us writing that line in shock!

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Barrister1

Greedy, rich, public school barristers revelling in denying cancer drugs to children, homes for the destitute, and proper kit for our armed forces. Blimey, my criminal colleagues make me proud.

Why should a publicly funded barrister earn more than a publicly funded nurse or teacher?

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SP

Er – they dont

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DJP

The Judicial Review in question was mounted by Solicitors not Barristers and I for one am a barrister who went to my local comp and regularly both prosecute and defend. I don’t earn anything like what most doctors I know earn and probably earn less than a lot of teachers when you take into account the fact that I don’t have a pension, paid holiday, paternity pay, sickness cover etc.

But don’t let the facts get in the way of a good rant.

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Not Amused

“Why should a publicly funded barrister earn more than a publicly funded nurse or teacher?”

I think your grasp of public sector salaries might be slightly askew.

Why not instead ask “Why do faceless civil servants in Whitehall whose job is to waffle about ‘policy’ get paid the same as 2.5 teachers?” or “why does each of our regulators employ an equality and diversity officer who each earn more than criminal barristers?”.

I grant our publicly funded colleagues are whiney. I grant that it is deeply hypocritical of them to ignore years of Labour cuts and then kick up a fuss over ‘Tory’ cuts. I grant that they shouldn’t all be millionaires. BUT 1) we need a proper criminal defence service in this country, because if we don’t have a proper one we will pay twice – once for our now shit service and once again for our now over full prisons (see America). 2) If we’re going to have a proper criminal defence service then that means the independent Bar, and 3) If we’re going to have an independent criminal Bar then it has to pay properly or that will adversely impact social mobility and also reduce the likelihood of a good service (see point 1).

So we can either, have the old system paid properly and expect a free market to deliver savings (which it did). Or we can nationalise their pay structure (I suggest we just match their earnings to doctors in the NHS). But what we definitely shouldn’t do is what we do now which is to half arsedly try both – so we pay them ‘privately’ yet we also pay for a huge public sector administrative service to ‘manage’ their pay (see point 1 in re the public stupidly paying twice for the same thing).

I appreciate that our colleagues seldom use financial arguments. I have kept trying to tell them to start but they are inherently idealistic and seem able to defend everyone but themselves.

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Marcus

The criminal bar had it good for long enough, and now they are feeling the effects. They rinsed the public purse in the good old days and now cuts are being made the Bar is getting uppety! It is amusing to see criminal barristers all egg each other on either in the robing room (when I am allowed in as a lowly sol), or on Twitter to make the next best point re: why they should get more money, or keep on receiving the fees they do. Some event take to elaborate blogs – liking the sound of their own voice.

The Bar needs to bare the brunt of the cuts, as with every other profession. They still have plenty of money for their lovely country picnics.

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