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Garden Court barrister to sue police after being arrested on uni picket line

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Franck Magennis accuses cops of an ‘outrageous breach of civil liberties’

Franck Magennis being arrested outside St George’s, University of London — credit: Zachary Whyte/United Voices of the World

A trade union barrister has pledged to sue the Metropolitan Police after being arrested on a picket line outside a London university.

Franck Magennis, head of legal for the United Voices of the World trade union, accused the Met of an “outrageous breach of civil liberties” after being briefly handcuffed at a protest at St George’s, University of London, on Monday morning.

Magennis, who is on secondment from prestigious human rights set Garden Court Chambers, says that he has instructed solicitors to sue the police for what he described as “false imprisonment”.

Susie Labinjoh of Hodge Jones & Allen said that “clearly important constitutional issues are raised by Mr Magennis’ arrest. We will be looking at all legal avenues to ensure that the police are held to account, that trade union members are not criminalised for going on strike, and that people are not arbitrarily arrested.”

United Voices of the World has organised 15 days of strike action at St George’s, a leading medical school, in support of its “severely overworked and disrespected” security guards.

Magennis says that police objected to the strikers playing music on the picket line and warned that they were causing nuisance or disturbance on NHS premises contrary to section 119 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. He told Legal Cheek:

“By the time I showed up, the music had already stopped. I was in the middle of having a conservation with a police officer who was saying that everyone here was committing an offence, which is outrageously broad.

I asked the police officer how the offence was made out. If you look at the statute, the offence is committing nuisance ‘without reasonable excuse’. Surely industrial action is a reasonable excuse — and even if you consider that music constitutes a nuisance, which is questionable, it had come to an end. In the middle of this conversation, he just slapped the cuffs on me.”

A video taken by the Wandsworth Guardian shows Magennis arguing with police before being handcuffed. Released just a few minutes later, the barrister is seen to quip “can I get my copy of the Communist Manifesto back?”

Magennis accused police of using his arrest to intimidate fellow strikers. United Voices of the World said that “the incident appears to represent an attempt by the Metropolitan Police to use criminal sanctions to frustrate lawful industrial action”.

While Magennis commented: “If my false imprisonment goes unchallenged, that would allow the Metropolitan Police to criminalise what is lawful civil activity, and would have a chilling effect on workers’ ability to stand up to bosses and exercise their civil liberties”.

Fellow left-leaning barristers sent messages of support. Alasdair Mackenzie of Doughty Street Chambers said “this is outrageous — solidarity to Franck and to the strikers from UVW”.

Magennis says on his chambers profile that he “situates his practice within broader movements for socio-economic equality and political liberation”. He is the co-founder of the Materialist Lawyers’ Group, which “critically interrogates law’s role in reproducing unjust hierarchies and resource distributions”.

Last year United Voices of the World launched a new branch called Legal Sector Workers United, aiming to sign up interns, trainee solicitors and pupil barristers.

Junior lawyer event: How to build a career at a US law firm in London, with lawyers from Cleary Gottlieb, Kirkland & Ellis, Shearman & Sterling and Skadden — this Thursday evening: REGISTER TO ATTEND

68 Comments

Anonymous

Mr Nobody who will still be Mr Nobody afterwards

Ron Broxted

Unlike you?

Anon

His Chambers bio says his “work centres on challenging the most abusive and violent excesses of the British state and the landlord class”. A fine example of CD4 in action!

Martin Routh

What is CD4? (Genuine question.)

Just Anonymous

Core Duty 4 in the BSB Handbook.

“You must maintain your independence”

Barrister2Be

Bar Core Duty 4 – you must maintain your independence

Query

What is CD4, please?

Anonymous

You’d be amazed how many on the Left have cautions and arrests for violence against other people.

Balanced viewpoint

Even by LC comment standards, what an ignorant remark

Independent Working Class Association

Red Action (a far-Left political group) once set off a bomb outside of Harrods, presumably out of jealousy against those who can afford to shop there.

How ignorant to believe that stating concern for the working class, women and the marginalised automatically means that they would never consider violence as a means to gain notoriety.

Anon

I bet you’re fun at parties.

Anonnn

If he respects the work of security guards so much, why not be employed as one instead of a barrister perpetuating ‘unjust hierarchies’?

Anon1

What a ridiculous take. If that is your logic then lawyers (or anyone else) shouldn’t support NHS staff on strike etc.

Anonnnn

What’s the logic in devoting time and energy to meetings on why you dislike the inequality lawyers perpetuate, only to then therefore spend ££££ training for the Bar at a school belonging to a global conglomerate to earn £££££ more than most?

Virtual signallers deep down always believe they are better than the group they exploit for social media kudos.

This is why you won’t see Franck doing any part-time security work. A barrister will get far more social media kudos than someone on the night shift too tired to attending a protest in the morning.

A little assistance

Virtual
/ˈvəːtʃʊ(ə)l,ˈvəːtjʊəl/
1. almost or nearly as described.
2. not physically existing as such but made by software to appear to do so.

Virtue
/ˈvəːtʃuː,ˈvəːtjuː/
1. behaviour showing high moral standards.

Franck

“…. This is why you won’t see Franck doing any part-time security work.”

The reason you won’t see this bloke doing part-time security work is because he is a lawyer and not a part-time security guard.

Anonymous

He is self-employed and free to do what he likes.

I believe deep-down he thinks security guards and their work to be beneath him, which is why he asks people on his Twitter feed to stand in solidarity with himself, not the guards.

Anonymous

Yes. He is self-employed as a barrister. Not a security guard.

I suspect the security guards he represents are more interested in having a lawyer on hand during a difficult protest rather than what you “believe deep-down” Franck thinks about security work.

Anonymous

Is Franck now instructed by these security guards?

Having a lawyer at a protest certainly isn’t going to ‘protect’ anyone, as Franck’s arrest and summons of the Twitter mob shows.

A 16-stone, 6ft5 security guard built like the proverbial brick craphouse? The police wouldn’t have dared. That’s what you want to get other men to back down.

Genuine Question

Why have you put ‘protect’ in quotation marks?

Anonymous

What’s a “virtual signaller”?

Anon

One who signals virtue.

Anon

Better learn the difference between “virtue” and “virtual” then

Anonymous

Someone for whom attention, social media likes and inward self-satisfaction matters far more than the people they step upon to get it.

Anon

It’s a bit like when Keir Starmer represented Greenpeace pro bono in that libel case against McDonalds as a junior barrister. If he cares about the environment so much – why become a barrister given how much paper they go through, destroying the Amazon rainforest and stomping over all of us with his massive carbon footprint. Instead of virgin signalling, if he really cared about the environment – why not live in a cave somewhere? It’s so hypocritical

Anonymous

The issue here with Franck is that he attends meetings on why the legal profession is privileged and ‘problematic’, whilst reaping the benefits the profession brings of higher earnings than most people and the free time to attend protests.

It reeks of narcissism and zero self-awareness. How much time and public attention has he devoted to the guards he was meant to be protesting for rather than himself?

HJA

Exactly – the time attending meetings could have been used training as a security guard and then chipping in with the work these aforementioned security guards were doing and thereby reducing some of the pressure off their shoulders. But instead of doing that, what’s he been doing? – becoming a lawyer. Why? Because he doesn’t care about security guards after all.

Anon

Franck’s attention-seeking tweeting has got people to feel sorry for him, not the guards who will always have it far worse than he does.

Brexit

Yes – people are falling into the elephant trap of feeling sorry for Franck. He has tricked them.

Agreed

Agreed – he needs to devote more time to those guards.

Barrington L

“He is currently co-pioneering the London Learning Cooperative, a cooperative experiment in redistributive pricing and emancipatory pedagogy. He enjoys playing piano (especially Rihanna tunes)…”

2016 call.

We can look forward to three or four decades of aggressive virtue-signalling and attention-seeking from this chump. Especially now that Jolyon seems to have been cancelled.

Oh dear

‘a cooperative experiment in redistributive pricing and emancipatory pedagogy.’

It’s a tuition agency.

Joanna, what were you saying about writing clearly in pupillage forms and avoiding exaggeration…?

Catty

‘prestigious human rights set Garden Court Chambers’

Really?!

Anon

Quite. He’ll be intellectually second rate. Dross set, doing dross work.

Sam L

You genuinely don’t know what you’re talking about, do you?

Anon

Neither does your mum

#burn #gottcha #owned #needsomeointmentforthatburn

Anon

Garden Court used to be good but now they have no silks or even any QCs anymore and now it’s just lefties there

Anon

To have no silks is bad, to have no qcs either, well that’s just terrible. I know what I’m talking about, honest.

Barrister

“To have no silks is bad, to have no qcs either, well that’s just terrible. I know what I’m talking about, honest.”

Are you being honest? A silk is the same thing as a QC 90% of the time so your comment literally makes no sense.

Anon

I’m being pedantic but I’m also bothered a barrister has tweeted ‘they have another thing coming’. It’s THINK, they have another think coming.

Anon

Either acceptable in common parlance now.

Anon

How long have you been the gatekeeper of the English language, pray tell?

Anon

Only amongst the ignorant.

Anon

I agree it should be ‘think’ but either has been acceptable since Judas Priest

Larry

Lawyers are not supposed to get arrested. He is naughty man. Trouble is brewing.

CPS

Why are the right so afraid of calling out the police when they overstep their authority? Being handcuffed is not a pleasant experience for anyone and is often used as an intimidation tactic, but without justifiable cause it is unlawful. The police are not above the law.

Anonymous

I wish the Left did the same to call out bullies, racists and those who perpetuate sexual harassment when it happens within their own pro bono legal offices.

Virtual signallers should not be above the law either. They pretty much are though when pro bono volunteers are left without legal equality rights and the ability to go before a judge.

Maybe some people like the fact that they feel above the law?

Anonymous

What happened?

Matt

but what was he arrested for?

Anonymous

High twattery.

Well done Matt

That’s the only sensible question on this comment page

Ian Dodd

It’s little wonder that the bar gets a bad press when there are f**kwits like this eager to provide the ammunition.

Dale Cooper

It’s probably more down to pompous c**ts like you, Mr Dodd.

Ian Dodd

At least I’m happy to post under my real name, Dale (Twin Peaks) Cooper.

Agent Cooper

Quite – make that brazen, boastful, pompous c**ts.

Ian Dodd

‘They call me a bummer and a gin sot too, but what cares I for praise’. Bob Dylan, ‘The Days of 49’.

Anon

I blame Bob Dylan for this kind of anarchy and such unseemly confrontations with the police amongst the young

Anon

He will have to self-report to the BSB.

BSSB

You’re mistaken Gareth. You are under a duty to self-report to the BSB when you are charged with an indictable offence. Not if you are simply arrested (and de-arrested five minutes later.)

Gareth

No, he has to self-report in these circumstances.

Anon

He is under a duty to self-report.

Anon

As your comment implies – there is in fact no duty to self-report

Anon

Yes, duty to self-report if you are arrested. I called the BSB and they told me this.

Anonymous

Franck’s presence at this protest has done absolutely nothing to tell the world about the working conditions these security guards face, why they are protesting, what they want to achieve for the guards or even these guards’ names.

He’s managed to make it all about himself. Franck’s opinion of the police is what will be publicised now, not the guards’ possibly challenging working conditions nor their much lower earnings than Franck.

This is why people lose sympathy for protesters. Some people seem to be there not because they really care for the cause, but for you to care about them being seen.

Amused

I assume you will be on the picket line tomorrow playing a small violin

MB

Ugh, how dare this barrister deploy his legal skills in objecting to his unlawful arrest.

Little reminder: police exist to serve and protect the public – not to intimidate those lawfully protesting unacceptable working conditions.

Gotcha

Hi Frank

Blue

A certain level of intimidation or unlawful behaviour needs to take place in certain situations by the police. You can’t go overboard but exercised reasonably, it’s the principle of self-defence – I’m surprised so many lawyers/law students on here dont understand that

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