Legal Cheek

Phone hacking lawyer could ban Southampton student trainees if ‘anti-Semitic’ conference goes ahead

Mark Lewis brings wannabe lawyers into a row that has nothing to do with them

Well-known phonehacking solicitor Mark Lewis has indicated that he may avoid giving training contracts to Southampton University students amid a row about a controversial conference being hosted by the Russell Group institution’s law school.

The conference — entitled ‘International Law and the State of Israel: Legitimacy, Responsibility and Exceptionalism’ — will question the legal and moral right of Israel to exist when it takes place next month.

Over 5,000 people have signed a petition calling on the university to cancel the conference, but Lewis — who is a partner at London media law firm Seddons — has gone a step further, warning that he “would not look so favourably” on applications from Southampton students if the event goes ahead.

Lewis first alluded to this approach — which seems rather unfair on Southampton-educated wannabe lawyers — on Twitter last week.

Then yesterday the lawyer, who represented the family of murdered Surrey teenager Milly Dowler during the hacking scandal, told The Telegraph:

“This is a one-sided conference, not a debate and I would want to raise serious questions about what students at this university are being taught and what the university believes.

“If Southampton allows teaching which does not present both sides of a case it would raise doubts in my mind about the suitability of a candidate from its School of Law. I would not look so favourably on those CVs.”

When contacted by Legal Cheek today, Seddons said Lewis’ views did not represent those of the firm and that Southampton University students would not be treated differently to any other applicants. A spokesperson for the firm commented:

“The recent comments by one of our partners, Mark Lewis, reflect only Mark’s personal views with regards this particular matter, and are in no way representative of the views, position or policies of the firm.”