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Liverpool anger as Hillsborough QC is nominated for ‘Barrister of the Year’

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John Beggs QC targeted in local press and on social media

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Some people in Liverpool are fuming after the barrister who represented senior police chiefs at an inquest into the Hillsborough disaster was short-listed for a ‘Barrister of the Year’ award.

Liverpudlian newspaper The Echo has published two scathing articles criticising the nomination of John Beggs QC for The Lawyer magazine’s top bar gong.

Beggs (pictured below) — a highly-rated silk who is joint head of chambers at London’s Serjeants’ Inn — represented match commander David Duckenfield during the inquest into the tragic football disaster that saw 96 football fans lose their lives.

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The local newspaper takes issue with Beggs’ tactics during the two-year long inquest, in particular his willingness to argue on behalf of his client that the drunkenness of spectators and possible hooliganism could have contributed to the disaster.

Members of the legal profession would point out that this was simply a barrister doing his job.

During a robust performance during the inquest, Beggs also referenced the 1985 Heysel stadium disaster at which 39 fans died. According to The Echo, the vastly experienced silk was stopped by coroner Sir John Goldring on two separate occasions after his line of questioning to witnesses cited the disaster, which was the result of a riot.

Such back and forth over uncomfortable issues is commonplace in courtrooms, as lawyers fight for their clients’ best interests.

Many people in Liverpool are, however, unlikely to view the matter in such a dispassionate way. Anger at Beggs’ nomination has spilled over onto social media as a previously obscure legal awards has become the talk of the city.

One ‘Justice for the 96′ campaigner described the decision as an “absolute disgrace to the bar”, while another labelled it as “disgusting”. And a Twitter account — dedicated to providing updates on the Hillsborough legal case — suggested Beggs’ inclusion on the list was “unbelievable”.

The Echo has now taken upon itself to produce its own list of lawyers who they believe do deserve recognition. Michael Mansfield QC — who represented 77 of the victims families — is given high praise. Pete Weatherby QC of Garden Court North Chambers, Christina Lambert QC of One Crown Office Row and Liverpool-born lawyer Elkan Abrahamson are also recognised by the newspaper for their efforts.

Having heard almost two years worth of evidence, a jury at the Hillsborough inquest found last month that the 96 fans who died on 15 April 1989 were unlawfully killed.

28 Comments

Anonymous

Somewhat leap frogging off other press coverage me thinks Connelly doth’ protest too much

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Anonymous

At least its not yet another one of KK’s articles copied and pasted off the Tab.

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Anonymous

A barrister should not be judged on who they represent but their skill. If he’s an exceptionally talented barrister, which I do not doubt, then let him be nominated. Going by the same logic, it would be unreasonable for any counsel defending rape, murder, violence etc to be represented.

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Anonymous

How exactly do you know the people of Liverpool are fuming? Maybe a minority of people are ‘fuming’, but the majority understand that who are barrister represents does not represent the barrister as a person, and understand that it is everyone’s right to have right to legal representation.

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Anonymous

I think it’s a fair guess at any point in history that the people of Liverpool are fuming.

This comment alone will bring rioters onto the streets.

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Anonymous

Don’t be ridiculous. I’ve lived in Liverpool the last two years and the majority of people are very thoughtful people. Yes, people are angry about the cover-up, but to suggest that all of Liverpool is outraged at the police having legal representation is absurd. And for you to suggest that people will riot because of my comment is too. Have you ever been to Liverpool?

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Boh Dear

LC this comment is too reasonable. Please remove.

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Anonymous

It’s a fair guess, inferred from your single comment alone, that you are bigoted prick who knows f all about Liverpool.

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Anonymous

Going by the same logic why not refuse to nominate anyone who has defended a big corporation? After all, they ain’t paying their taxes..

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Anonymous

Completely agree with you. A barrister cannot be judged in a competition of how skilled they are at their profession by who they represent.

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Anonymouse

Well done Beggs QC. Ably handled a very difficult brief.

Yes, we’re glad justice for the 96 was achieved, but as a lawyer, I cannot condemn Beggs’ line of questioning given his instructions, nor can I condone those asking for his name to be removed from the shortlist.

I just wish the general public understood this…

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Anonymous

So because The Echo wrote a critical article that means everyone is Liverpool is fuming? Don’t be ridiculous. Are you suggesting that this barrister should not have acted to his highest level of competence?

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Anonymous

Sounds like you’re fuming mate.

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Anonymous

Very funny. My point is that a barrister cannot and should not be judged in a competition of skill by who their client is, regardless of what they’ve done. Seems idiotic that the writer of the article would state they everyone in Liverpool is furious at the barrister when the fury is at South Yorkshire Police. Any semi-educated person would respect that everyone has a right to legal representation.

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Scouser of Counsel

This barrister will not have had a personal interest in submissions he made or questions he asked. He is paid to represent his clients interests and utilise all of his skill as an advocate to do so.

We have an adversarial system- that’s just the way it is. Ultimately it works. Trial by media or trial by public opinion (scouse or otherwise) would not have brought justice for the 96.

Why this should preclude him from an award because he represented an unpopular cause with lying scumbag police clients is beyond me.

If counsel’s performance was measured by the popularity of their clients, one would never defend anyone accused of murder, rape, child abuse etc.

I have no problem with counsel being awarded for doing their job well.

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Anonymous

Actually an inquest is not adversarial, they are inquisitorial proceedings.

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Anonymous

Lol scounsel

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Quick post something to sound intelligent anonymously

-//-

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Anonymous

Flatuland!

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

Only a mug would judge him for taking a case.

A barrister is like a prizefighter. You get paid to take on an opponent.

The chap didn’t get to QC level by luck. Clearly a talented bloke.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

I’m not really surprised… I looked at those nominations and it’s like that magazine has forgotten that legal aid law exists.

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Anonymous

For some reason my coherent comments were removed for breach of acomments policy. Can someone please revisit them and at the very least tell me what that policy is and in what way it has been breached. They were the longest comments but there was nothing
offensive

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Anonymous

Legal Cheek like to remove any comment which contradicts their article or puts an intelligent argument across. Don’t be offended

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breaches Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Anonymous

This post has been removed because it breaches Legal Cheek’s comments policy.

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Gladiatrix

Perhaps the journalists at Legal Cheek might like to point out to their fellow journalists at The Echo that if the latter feel that strongly they should make a complaint to the Bar Standards Board instead of indulging in outbreaks of childishness in the pages of the newspaper.

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