Fear the legal Twitterati
Lawyers have reacted angrily to comments by Lord Adonis, former Labour politician and journalist, that the judiciary has failed to speak up against the conditions in prisons as well as the number of inmates.
The very public row is still rumbling on after beginning last week at the official start of the legal year when Lord Adonis stated on Twitter:
It’s why only thing world class about Britain’s prison population is its size, inhumanity and recidivism. That’s largely the judges’ fault https://t.co/32QCP3rHYd
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) October 2, 2017
‘We are the best in the world,’ says new Lord Chief Justice of a judiciary which has trebled prison numbers in a generation https://t.co/Iddj3ve1nX
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) October 3, 2017
The legal Twitterati’s angry reaction began almost immediately with criticism from the likes of George Peretz QC (who delivered a disdainful, “this isn’t impressive”) and Jolyon Maugham QC.
You’re sounding like the Daily Mail. It’s not a judge’s job to respond to popular “clamour”. It’s a judge’s job to apply the law.
— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) October 2, 2017
Adonis dismissed the barrage of criticism from “legal twitter” tweeting: “QCs also say [judges] are wonderful — unsurprisingly bec they appear before the judges & some want to become them.”
The tweets continued to be hailed back and forth including rancour from Glasgow law professor James Chalmers and former Lord Chancellor Charles Falconer QC. Anonymous blogger the Secret Barrister, who has twice the number of twitter followers as Adonis, also took the time to write a long post about the comments.
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) October 8, 2017
One barrister, Tom Gilbart, summed up the battle as he saw it:
Ministers – expected to follow the party line
Judges – to be criticised for following the law https://t.co/JDeNUDH9HT
— Tom Gilbart (@TomGilbart) October 7, 2017
Adonis, with around 25,000 followers on Twitter, was not going to be silenced and even had a pop at the Law Commission whilst he was at it:
The Law Commission a talking shop which makes lawyers think they are effecting change when nothing changes https://t.co/fTSne2f6le
— Andrew Adonis (@Andrew_Adonis) October 7, 2017
As the mudslinging continues, it is worth noting that Lord Adonis has also been very critical recently on the subject of tuition fees and vice chancellor pay (not least because, as the Guardian reports, his children are of university age) so it might be that he has it in for more than just the judges.