Open letter follows series of public attacks on profession
An open letter calling on the Prime Minister and Home Secretary to apologise for their “display of hostility” towards the legal profession has garnered over 800 signatures, including those of three former justices of the UK Supreme Court.
“We are all deeply concerned at recent attacks, made by the Home Secretary and echoed by the Prime Minister, on lawyers seeking to hold the government to the law”, the group write in an open letter published over the weekend.
The signatories include three former justices of the Supreme Court (Lord Collins, Lord Dyson and Lord Walker); 84 QCs; 76 partners and law firm directors; 74 law professors; 294 junior barristers; 162 solicitors; 90 academics; and eight Legal NGO directors.
The letter follows a series of attacks by the the government on the legal profession.
In August, the Home Office tweeted a short video in which it accused “activist lawyers” of delaying and disrupting the return of migrants to their home countries. The post was eventually deleted after it was condemned by the department’s top civil servant.
Meanwhile, Priti Patel attacked “the do-gooders” and “lefty lawyers” who are “defending the broken system”, in a divisive speech during the Conservatives’ virtual party conference earlier this month.
Boris Johnson also slammed the legal profession in his own keynote address, telling those watching that the party must stop “the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the Home Secretary would doubtless and rightly call the lefty human rights lawyers and other do-gooders.”
The letter claims such attacks “endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law which ministers and lawyers alike are duty bound to uphold.”
It goes on to urge Patel and Johnson to “behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future”.