Top barrister sparks social media row with telly-copper over Janner ‘trial of facts’

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By Jonathan Ames on

The hack that dug up the dirt on Jimmy Savile has described some of Pump Court man’s Twitter followers as “pro paedophile”


There is probably no word in the English language that currently triggers a witch-hunt faster than this little gem: paedophile.

And now a leading lawyer is discovering just how keen certain elements of the great British public are to assemble some branches and fire up the kindling.

Matthew Scott (pictured above left) — a top criminal barrister at Pump Court Chambers in the Temple and the author of Barrister Blogger — has found himself in the crosshairs of kiddie-fiddler-catcher-in-chief Mark Williams-Thomas (pictured above right).

Scott’s offence? To suggest in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph that the Director of Public Prosecutions was right in her original decision that prosecuting former MP Lord Greville Janner would not be in the public interest, and indeed would be pointless.

DPP Alison Saunders overturned that ruling after it had been referred for independent review to fellow barrister David Perry of 6 KBW College Hill. There will now be an initial hearing to see whether a “trial of the facts” should proceed.

But Scott’s suggestion that Saunders’ first view was right — that prosecuting a defendant who does not have the mental capacity to plead let alone to mount a defence — is tantamount to high treason in a world where even uttering the word paedophile is a bit suspect.

Williams-Thomas — an ex-rozzer-turned-broadcast-journalist, who was instrumental the investigations into Jimmy Savile — was today cutting Scott no slack.

When Legal Cheek’s own crusty defender of free speech, Judge John Hack, asked Williams-Thomas whether in his view all Scott’s 3,500-plus Twitter followers could be classed as “the paedophile’s friend”, he was somewhat vague.

And that opaqueness certainly didn’t mollify many on the social media site. For example, renowned legal profession blogger Carl Gardner had a germane query.

While this contribution summed up the general mood.

A senior lawyer practising at the independent bar, Scott is undoubtedly made of stern fibre with a backbone that can take the pressure from William-Thomas and others.

Whether that can be said of Saunders — who is effectively a senior civil servant and subject to intense pressure from the popular press — is debatable.

Lord Janner and his family have consistently denied all allegations of child abuse made against him.