Conservative MP left red-faced this afternoon
Iain Duncan Smith has apologised for branding shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer QC a “second rate lawyer”, accepting that the comment was “clumsy”.
Appearing in the House of Commons this afternoon, Duncan Smith — or IDS for short — took the opportunity to personally apologise to Starmer. To a chorus of jeers from fellow members of parliament, the former Secretary of State for Work and Pensions said:
Can I unreservedly withdraw the allegation I made on Monday — only on the basis that it was clumsy.
Claiming that the comment wasn’t about the Doughty Street barrister personally, IDS continued:
It was meant about advice and I don’t doubt for a moment his capabilities as a lawyer.
Starmer — who is well regarded in legal circles, having previously held the role of Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) — appeared to accept the apology, replying:
I’m grateful for that and I can assure him I wasn’t the slightest bit concerned.
Yesterday Legal Cheek reported the “second rate lawyer” jibe had left a number of lawyers unhappy. Taking to Twitter, one top silk branded IDS a “fourth rate human being” while another member of the bar said if IDS “worked in McDonalds, he would struggle to get a second star on his badge.”