‘#ChangeTheRecord’: Bar Council retort goes viral as government doubles down on ‘activist’ lawyer-bashing

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Senior minister Priti Patel reignites row

The Bar Council’s sassy response to the government’s latest attack on lawyers has gone viral overnight.

A tweet telling Priti Patel, the Home Secretary, to “#ChangeTheRecord” after she again sniped at “activist lawyers” has been shared thousands of times since it was posted at 9pm last night.

Ministers and lawyers have been locking horns over the issue of legal rights for migrants crossing the English Channel in small boats. Last week, the Home Office deleted a tweet attacking “activist lawyers” helping people challenge their removal from the UK after the department’s top civil servant deemed it inappropriate for a government account.

But Priti Patel is not a civil servant and has decided to keep stirring the pot. Last night she — or whatever special adviser runs her Twitter account — tweeted that “removals continue to be frustrated by activist lawyers”.

Giving evidence to MPs yesterday, a Home Office official complained about “last-minute legal challenges” to migrants being removed that meant “we were in court until 2 o’clock in the morning” the previous night.

Top immigration lawyer Sonia Lenegan told the Times (£) that this was down to lack of legal aid making it difficult for migrants to find a lawyer at an earlier stage. “For many, the first time they see a lawyer is in the detention centre, so the Home Office shouldn’t be surprised that cases come up at the last minute,” she said.

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Patel’s renewed assault on Lenegan and her colleagues sparked fury among the profession. Derek Bernardi of Camden Community Law Centre said that the government was “proudly displaying their contempt for the rule of law”.

While housing guru Giles Peaker called it “horseshit”.

But some worried that the legal Twitterati were falling into a political trap. Human rights barrister Adam Wagner said “beware the framing!”, warning that Patel is probably happy for public attention to be focused on lawyers rather than refugees. Immigration law blog Free Movement tweeted simply: “just ignore her”.

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Adam Wagner might as well be shouting into the wind.

These are lawyers we are talking about. Even worse, London based lawyers who think everyone just can’t wait to hear their genius musings.

The lawyers are quite right. The Home Office is an awful institution and they have no right to attack lawyers like this. However, Wagner is also right re the framing.

The lawyers will fall into the trap of course. They have no idea about public messaging beyond the misguided belief that the public all think they are geniuses and can’t wait to hear them speak, and if only the public heard them speak they would understand their point… bla bla.

See also: the awful attempts by the criminal bar and solicitors to campaign against legal aid cuts. Not a clue.

They are activists

Make all public funding, if there is to be any, for immigration work on a no-won no-fee basis. That ought to stop these activist lawyers wasting taxpayer cash and giving the profession a bad name. Ideally there should be no public funding at all for this sort of work, as so much cash paid by honest hard-working taxpayers seems to be wasted on illegal immigrants lying or criminals making up sob stories why they can’t be tried out.

A patriot with an opinion

They are asylum seekers, and human beings. You’d be grateful if you had a clue what they are experiencing and I am sure more so if you were god forbid experiencing the same.

These lawyers represent the very best of British values.

stephen mitchell

I fear we are heading for a Far Right ,populist government . Our very democracy is in danger. Th extremists have almost unlimited funding from wealthy individuals who want a small state ,deregulated economy. They don’t believe in climate change. Many are foreign ,including Russians who are close to the Putin regime. Imagine the outcry from the right wing press if a Labour government had placed an ex KGB officer in our legislature.

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