The Daily Mail went on a crazy anti-lawyer rampage this weekend

Newspaper’s tirade included telling profession it should apologise for Phil Shiner

daily mail

Few lawyers were left unscathed this weekend in a brutal anti-lawyer article that had something bad to say about pretty much everyone.

Though named persons in the firing line included Ben Emmerson QC, Lord Sumption and Lord Pannick QC, the lengthy comment piece really used the story of Phil Shiner as an excuse to tar the profession as a whole.

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Shiner was struck off earlier this month after the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) found him to be, among other things, dishonest. The former human rights lawyer was reprimanded for paying a middleman money to seek out potential claims against the Ministry of Defence from Iraqis.

One rotten apple? The Daily Mail doesn’t seem to think so. In a piece posted on the Mail Online, columnist Stephen Glover told readers “the legal profession as a whole is implicated”.

Glover — who co-founded The Independent — says this because Shiner was “lauded by many of his colleagues”, such as High Court judge Rabinder Singh QC. He was also endorsed by the Law Society Gazette, which he believes should “apologise” for ever doing so. This has prompted a backlash from Gazette journalist John Hyde, who tweeted a number of positive legal stories using the hashtag #goodlawyers in response to the vicious hate piece.

But it’s not just lawyers’ support of Shiner that has riled Glover. The all-encompassing, incredibly one-sided piece also slams the profession for its lack of regulation (“the degree to which lawyers police themselves in secret can be breath-taking”; no mention of the Solicitors Regulation Authority/Bar Standards Board/etc here). It then goes on to say “we are all of us [sic]” paying more for our car insurance because of “unscrupulous lawyers touting for business”.

Later in the piece comes claims about the senior judiciary “increasingly throwing its weight around”, with Glover questioning how independent judges actually are. “Surely no human being can be utterly impartial or neutral”, he argues, before saying he “entirely acknowledge[s] Lord Neuberger’s neutrality”. But while he thinks Neuberger is a “very great man”, he couldn’t help dredge up that Lady Neuberger Twitter saga. On this, he says:

While I entirely acknowledge Lord Neuberger’s neutrality, we surely have a right to know that his nearest and dearest hold such strong views.

Glover’s piece is over 2,000 words of pure venom, directed at all facets of the profession. Perhaps it was only fitting, therefore, that he’d make a claim at the end of the piece sure to make lawyers scream.

How do we combat “unaccountable” judges who “like to maintain the illusion of impartiality”? Appoint them based on their political predilections of course! This according to Glover, who says the United States system is preferable to ours in this sense. With a swathe of Supreme Court justices set to retire in the next two years, a Theresa May-appointed bench is exactly what the profession is calling out for…

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20 Comments

Anonymous

As if journalists are in any position to talk about integrity.

(80)(1)
Anonymous

I’ll apologise for him when they apologise for the industry-wide phone hacking scandal.

(33)(1)
Not Amused

I read it. There’s nothing crazy about it. It raises several legitimate concerns. It also panders to the views of its readers – so does every paper. There were bits I agreed with and bits I didn’t. It is always valuable to consider how others see you.

What has to stop is this deeply dehumanising process of dismissing anyone who disagrees with you as “crazy”. Can we please just remember that human beings who suffer from mental ill health are not evil. Can we please remember that pretending someone who disagrees with you is mentally ill (when they transparently are not) is a vile and reprehensible thing to do?

We are all sliding in to various echo chambers. If this carries on we will have something ridiculous like civil war. We all need to GROW UP. People disagree. Ideas and views change. Changing your opinion, empathising with others, or simply having your own views challenged – these are all good things.

Life is not a black and white crusade between goodies and baddies.

(35)(4)
Anonymous

Very funny how you try to use mental health as an excuse to make your point as there has been a 50% increase in mental health deaths in this country under the conservative government . and they are not just views there actually responsible for deaths in this country your side started don’t cry when we fight back

(3)(16)
Anonymous

I appreciate that it is fun to wind up self-important lefties, but I am at a slight loss as to what the legitimate concerns are that this article raises. Could you help?

It makes a fair point about the moronic letter re the EU referendum. However, the holding of patronising liberal views is neither exclusive to lawyers nor particularly representative of them.

The reason lawyers make so much more money than they did in the past is because our economy was redesigned in the 80s and 90s into an hourglass services economy. The middle was hollowed out and those at the top now make much more money. If your clients’ income goes up by 1000%, your fees will go up too. I look forward to the Mail’s follow-up article arguing for the reintroduction of Keynesian macroeconomic policy.

The article is, in substance, simply an attack on lawyers. Those with an interest in economic history will know that there is a strong antipathy between the free market and the independent professions. This article is simply an expression of that, filtered through the Daily Mail’s particular political aesthetic.

(2)(1)
Anonymous

Some fair points in DM article.

Not popular to say so but tis true.

(9)(4)
Anonymous

No fan of the Daily Mail, but they were right to call out the Law Gazette for their relentless star-f*cking of Phil Shiner.

(14)(1)
Anonymous

A lawyer speaks…

Everyone other than lawyers hates lawyers. Lawyers tell you things you don’t want to hear. We all know this. What’s the big deal?

(3)(1)
Top Cat

Until the President of the Law Society does come out and apologise on behalf of the profession is it little wonder that we are tarred with the same brush as the wretched Shiner…?

But seeing how garlanded he was by the Law Soc and the other useful idiots, I’m not expecting anything too soon to come out of 113 CLane.

(6)(0)
Stoat

There are a large number of good lawyers out there.

There are a lesser number of bad ones.

However, as with the police, when “good” ones fail to speak out against “bad” ones, or close ranks to cover them, they are no longer “good” lawyers.

Whilst the Mail is prone to ranting and rhetoric, their points are mostly valid.

if the profession is to improve its image it must be seen to be doing a _much_ better job of removing the bad apples – just as in a real apple store, there is a critical need to remove them before they infect the others and turn them bad too. One bad apple really _can_ ruin the entire harvest.

(5)(1)
Gladiatrix

The one that did shock me was the kid glove treatment of Ben Emerson, any other man would have been reported to and questioned by the police. I would like to know what the complainant thought about that.

(0)(0)
HumansRight

Lawyers need to wake up and realise the very low perception the general public have of them. Shiner got struck off but what about the 100s of other like him?

(0)(1)
True-Man LJ

I do think it’s quite the irony that a journalist would bemoan any other profession’s conduct; their own industry-wide behaviour is woefully inadequate for the noble cause they claim to pursue.

Then again I see no honour in half the tabloid bullshit that is peddled. Real journalism provokes thought and flags up societal issues. It celebrates success and offers recognition of disaster. Not this sort of putrid pompous grandstanding.

It also seems particularly laughable as trust and confidence in the press lags behind most other professions… including estate agents and bankers. Whoops.

(2)(0)

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