Backlash against tax QC who said the legal system allows men to ‘rape almost with impunity’

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By Katie King on

Criminal lawyers described the comment as ‘ill judged’, ‘unfair’ and ‘poor’

A tax specialist made a tweet about the legal system and its treatment of rapists, and it sparked a whole load of controversy in the criminal law community.

Days after Harriet Harman MP proposed a ban on lawyers asking alleged rape victims about their sexual history, Devereux Chambers’ Jo Maugham QC made this tweet:

Within minutes, it became clear Maugham’s tweets had irked some criminal lawyers. 9 St John Street barrister Jaime Hamilton was one of the first to make his feelings known:

Anonymous legal blogger and advocate the Secret Barrister, who recently revealed they’re to publish a book on the criminal justice system and how it’s broken, added:

Rebecca Herbert, a 36 Bedford Row barrister who specialises in serious sexual offences, also seemed unimpressed. In a long series of tweets, she told Maugham his comment was “ill judged”:

Then it was the turn of outspoken criminal lawyer and St Pauls Chambers silk Simon Myerson. Throwing in his two cents, the fraud specialist said:

Later, Myerson made a comment seemingly shared by some others embroiled in the Twitter spat. Is Maugham — a tax specialist who is planning to sue Uber over an alleged unpaid VAT bill and whose crowdfunding efforts helped pay for the recent Supreme Court Brexit challenge — qualified to comment on the criminal justice system and how it deals with rapists?

Criminal solicitor Rich Carlin, who described Maugham’s original tweet as “poor”, seemed to echo this sentiment when he said:

Despite the backlash, Maugham appears to be sticking by his original tweet. Speaking to Legal Cheek this morning, he said:

It’s absolutely desirable that we, as a profession, engage constructively with public concern about how the legal system functions. There are dangers for us if we allow ourselves to be portrayed as defensive and out of touch.

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