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Family barrister suspended following ‘offensive and unacceptable’ Royal baby tweet

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Joanna Toch apologises after ill-judged remark

A family law barrister who posted an “offensive” and “unacceptable” tweet following the birth of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new baby has been suspended by the law firm she founded.

Joanna Toch has been suspended with immediate effect “pending an internal review”, Family Law Cafe (FLC) confirmed in a statement on Monday.

The Chancery Lane outfit said it considered the barrister’s comments to be “offensive, unacceptable and highly contradictory to the inclusive manner in which FLC has always and will continue to work with members of all communities in managing the challenges of matrimonial and family dispute”.

Toch’s suspension came after an ill-judged remark about the name of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s new baby, Lilibet ‘Lily’ Diana Mountbatten-Windsor, in a tweet posted on Sunday evening (screenshot below).

The experienced barrister, who founded Family Law Cafe in 2014, tweeted: “No Doria? Don’t black names matter?” Doria Ragland is the name of Markle’s mother.

A screenshot of Toch’s tweet

The tweet was in response to journalist Julie Burchill, who caused widespread anger and upset by posting: “What a missed opportunity. They could have called it Georgina Floydina!”

Burchill’s comment is in reference to George Floyd, whose murder in the US sparked mass Black Lives Matter protests around the world.

Toch later apologised for her post, tweeting:

“I am very sorry for the comment and what I saw as a joke. I’ve fought during my professional life against racism which is abhorrent. I’m not a judge and I have children of colour and I apologise unreservedly.”

The barrister’s Twitter account now appears to have been deleted.

Toch told Legal Cheek: “I confirm FLC have taken that step [the suspension] and I will work with the company in their investigation.”

The Bar Standards Board (BSB) previously issued guidance on how barristers should conduct themselves online, warning that comments designed to “demean or insult are likely to diminish public trust and confidence in the profession”.

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35 Comments

Urgh

I’ve heard many similar shocking remarks from barristers at the expense of others at Inn events, within legal charities, at Xmas parties and during conversations at pubs around Temple.

No one finds such crass comments ‘cool’ or ‘funny’.

Yes – Toch would have been furious if a Twitter joke was made at her expense about being female, White or laughing about what she named her child.

(58)(104)

Barry

I mean.. you are right she is a hypocrite, but being a hypocrite and not being funny shouldn’t be grounds for suspension. Otherwise we would have no barristers at all.

(60)(21)

Anonymous

Does anyone actually find that offensive??

❄️❄️

(90)(37)

Anon

The woke echo chamber decides what iis offensive . Ordinary people might not be able to understand what sets them off or why, but the echo chamber’s rulings are final.

(59)(21)

SavetheKrill

One day a rooster, the next day a feather duster…..

(1)(1)

Confused

Someone please explain how that is an offensive comment.

(74)(27)

Barry

Our culture is one where if you are even seen to criticise certain protected individuals or groups, even if it was not your intent, and in fact no one is actually hurt or offended.. you must prostrate yourself and beg for forgiveness before the alter of wokery.

I have no sympathy though as the bar has gone all in on identity politics, perhaps if they would have not jumped on the bandwagon they would not now be feeling the sting. Just look at a copy of Counsel to see the virtue signalling that leads to this kind of idiocy and cancellation for inane comments.

(50)(18)

Chancery Barrister

Counsel magazine is absolutely c**p, save to see who is advertising for tenancy

(7)(1)

Barry

I don’t know.. this edition came with 12 pages of adverts from marketing companies offering copy/pasted content from a ‘how to do marketing’ article. It also informed me of the importance of BLM and checking my privilage. There may have been three pages of actual practice information somewhere toward the back, before the film reviews.

(2)(1)

Anon

It amazes just how many barristers and other professionals believe Twitter to be this safe space where they can air their (at times reprehensible) views without consequence. Racially charged jokes in any capacity is wrong, but on a public Twitter account with your real name, face and links to your place of business? Just staggeringly stupid really. Surely she must have suspected that on a left-leaning platform, such as Twitter, this was likely to provoke some controversy…

(53)(13)

Explain

“Racially charged jokes in any capacity is wrong,” Why? The woke spew comments all the time about “white privilege”’ “institutional racism” and other nonsense, often in a tone that relies on comedic effects of sarcasm, irony or parody. Taking on the debate with satire or parody is a highly effective means of expressing the sentiments of a large proportion of the hard working ordinary English.

(49)(29)

You call your Mummy a snowflake?

Because you would never dare to make a “racially charged” joke to a client who was paying your mortgage, then beg them to take it as a joke if they threatened to take their business elsewhere.

Those who cry ‘frees peach’ know that in real life, we exist alongside others. There has never been a real licence in the world to selfishly say whatever you want without consequences.

(33)(65)

Me

I think that misses the whole point of the post above.

And what’s a “mortgage”?

(0)(6)

Not the OP but...

Well, yeah. Don’t post anything under your real names, people!

(1)(0)

Just Anonymous

I don’t care whether this tweet is ‘offensive’. As Sedley LJ said in Redmond-Bate v DPP, “Freedom only to speak inoffensively is not worth having”.

What I care about is whether this tweet is racist.

I don’t think it is.

In my view, this tweet is insulting, but it is insulting Meghan and Harry as individuals, not black people generally.

The point is that Meghan and Harry see racism everywhere. They hold the view (as I understand it) that Western society is structurally racist.

All Toch was doing was turning the tables back on them and showing how easy it is to ‘play the same game’ to conclude that their own conduct is racist: ‘oh look, you’ve named your child only after your white relatives, not your black relatives’.

This isn’t a serious accusation that Harry and Meghan actually are racist. Rather, the accusation is that, by their own obsessive and unrealistic standards, they are guilty of the same thing they accuse society of. Put another way: ‘if you’re determined to see everything as racist, then we can find racism in your conduct too.’

What you make of that criticism is up to you. Some may agree with it, and consider that it exposes a genuine hypocrisy in Meghan and Harry’s philosophy. Some may disagree, and consider Toch’s tweet nothing more than a crass, rude and ill-judged remark, which completely fails to engage seriously with the relevant issues.

My view is that, whatever stance you take, we should be free, in a democratic society, to have this discussion fearlessly, without being cancelled or otherwise losing our professional careers.

(120)(21)

FlourPour

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from repercussions. The old quote “I may not like what you say but will defend your right to say it” comes from a time when you could be imprisoned for talking about the king’s demise. Free speech means that the courtier is free to criticise the king but they can’t expect to remain in the court after doing so.

The legal profession has taken the position that it’s necessary to increase the diversity of its workforce, this member of the legal profession contradicted that aim and suffered the impact on her professional career. She’s perfectly free to sabotage her career if she likes, she won’t be taken to jail for her questionable views. She’s now also free to seek employment elsewhere and enjoy every other freedom in our society.

We have as many (legally protected) freedoms as any society in human history. Unfortunately for many, society has never tolerated bell*nds.

(11)(32)

M

Absolutely agree with you on this! Some people’s racism will never end and they are hiding it behind this anti-woke rhetoric.

(5)(0)

Barron's

Can someone explain why the barrister’s remark was seen as unacceptable? I would’ve read it from a lefty/woke perspective, and it’s fine when you read it like that – you could well make the case that more diverse names are needed in the royal family.

The Georgina Floydina comment was obviously crass and insensitive, but the barrister didn’t make that one.

(27)(10)

Barry

A wokist gets out woked by other wokists and makes a woke appology for not being sufficiently woke.

Remember kids, don’t mess around with woke.

(34)(11)

Claire

Cancelled 😆 why say anything at all stupid woman ,shes probably now at her wits end and will get no sleep with the worry 😂😂😂 Good for her

(11)(15)

Just sayin’

Without commenting on whether the tweet in question was “ok” or not, I would make the following general observation:

Satire and controversy is forbidden unless you’re powerful (and rich) enough to be immune from the consequences of being called out (The Inner Party) or have nothing to lose eg no job or professional body that can cancel you and housed at the expense of the state (The Proles).

Those professionals who stand to lose their jobs (and everything else) for making a joke or expressing a view that is not “correct” are the ones who are silenced. (The Outer Party).

Orwell predicted this. The Outer Party are the ones who have to be silenced because their dissent could change things.

The Proles are free to say what they like because they have no power.

(44)(6)

Barry

Too insightful for LC… to room 101 with you!!!

(16)(4)

Barnsey

Well shame on you, You so called jumped up barrister . If you cant say anything positive keep your nasty thoughts to yourself.
Serves you right!
We do not need people like YOU in tbe profession

(13)(24)

Barry

Oh look, a first year law student is trying to gate-keep who may or may not join the profession.. how quaint. Save your righteous indignation for the SU.

(6)(4)

Chancery Barrister

I doubt you are in my profession.

(1)(0)

Anon

Or any profession.

(3)(0)

BLM ✊🏾

Well said 🙌🏾

(0)(0)

Anonymous

Victimhood is the currency of today and we have a lot of counterfeiters…

(19)(7)

Philip Merrills Dearn

Twitter? You jest, surely?

(0)(1)

For the people complaining about freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequences.

(6)(22)

Barry

Go on then, tell us what does it means…

(0)(1)

Gelding LJ

First they came for the Woke…

(0)(2)

A

Though woke-on-woke warfare is such a juicy spectator sport.

(3)(1)

Anonymous

She clearly thought she’s was being clever and witty using her white privilege… do they have a module on anti-discriminatory practice in law studies?

Wouldn’t want her representing me in court …

Let’s see what action is taken against her 🤷🏽‍♀️

(7)(0)

Clare

Those of you condoning what this lady said are racist. It’s pure and simple. This isn’t about being on the left or the right of the political spectrum or being Woke. Its about being kind and respecting one another regardless of race. Her comments are clearly mocking the black lives matter movement. Whatever you think of the movement, the vast majority of people who support that movement just want black people to be treated as human beings. To then resort to saying don’t black names matter mocking Meghan’s baby name is making light of black people’s struggles. Well, Karma is a bitch and what ever you sow in this world, you reap it. A lot of you claim to not know what all the fuss is about but remember, while you may never face racism in your life, you will get your karma in other ways. That’s just the way the world works.

(9)(2)

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