Makes a change from the barrage of abuse the firm is used to
Parts of the legal profession have defied popular opinion today and come out in support of shamed human rights law firm Public Interest Lawyers (PIL).
PIL has got to be one of the most controversial law firms in the country right now. Headed up by equally controversial partner Phil Shiner, the firm has reportedly brought nearly 200 compensation claims from Iraqis against British servicemen and women. For months, PIL and its lawyers have been accused — largely in right wing tabloid media — of leading a “witch-hunt against our heroes”.
Now, it seems like the Daily Mail and co’s persistent calls for the firm’s shut down have paid off.
Yesterday, it was revealed the Birmingham-based firm will be closing its doors at the end of this month. The Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal is also expected to get involved over allegations of misconduct.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the British public is pretty happy to see the back of the ‘military chasing’ law firm. The Sun’s defence editor David Willetts welcomed its demise as “terrific news”; even Theresa May is said to be “very much pleased”.
Terrific news this morning that Phil Shiner' shoddy law firm Public Interest Lawyers will close. Made millions hounding heroes #lawfare
— David Willetts (@DavidWilletts3) August 15, 2016
In and among the social media furore, lawyers have refused to turn on their own. Some have, in fact, come out in support of the firm.
Human rights specialist Shoaib Khan described the firm’s reported shut down as “sad news”, and chose to reflect on the more positive aspects of PIL’s legacy.
Regardless of the circumstances leading to its closure, @PIL_Law has undoubtedly done some great human rights work over the last decade.
— Shoaib M Khan (@ShoaibMKhan) August 15, 2016
Fellow human rights lawyer Adam Wagner said nobody should be reaching conclusions about the firm until the necessary disciplinary investigations have concluded. In the same vein, leading family lawyer Philip Marshall QC said it was “worrying” the firm was being closed down before it had been investigated.
University of Bristol law school’s Matt Burton said it was “very worrying” to see lawyers “being punished” for holding government to account, while the media cheers on.