Dominic Raab’s decision to send pre-recorded bar conference message (rather than attending in-person) has apparently not gone down well with lawyers
The Justice Secretary has angered barristers after he opted not to deliver a speech in-person at the annual bar conference at the weekend, choosing instead to open a Christmas festival in his constituency and take a selfie with a giant roller-skating Christmas pudding and bauble.
Dominic Raab MP, who became Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary two months ago, sent a short pre-recorded video message to delegates at Saturday’s conference in London instead.
He later tweeted a selfie in his constituency of Esher and Walton next to two women on roller skates — one dressed as a Christmas pudding and the other as a bauble.
“Great to open the Christmas festival in Walton today — wonderful to see the community out enjoying the festive fun, including the roller-skating Christmas pudding!” he wrote.
The Justice Secretary is under fire from parts of the legal profession today, after sending a video message to @thebarcouncil #BarConf instead of attending in person. He has apparently not met with leaders of the Bar since taking up the role.
Here's what he did instead: https://t.co/k6IJkOIc83
— Tristan Kirk (@kirkkorner) November 20, 2021
McGarvey tweeted: “The Lord Chancellor, responsible for the efficient functioning and independence of the courts, chose not to address the Bar Council’s conference in-person because he was *check notes* in Walton at a Christmas festival. A dereliction of duty?”
Raab’s opposite number, the Shadow Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary David Lammy MP, said: “This morning I chose to spend my time with our country’s barristers at their first physical conference in two years. Dominic Raab was invited but instead [chose] to spend it with a [woman] dressed as a Christmas pudding.”
Nor did his video message seem to go down a treat as Kirsty Brimelow QC of Doughty Street Chambers said it was “met with absolute silence in the room” and “not even a polite handclap”. She added that “it is well known that he [Raab] continues not to meet leadership of the Criminal Bar Association or the Bar Council”.
Bar Council chair Derek Sweeting QC reportedly told the conference that he has not met Raab since he was appointed Justice Sec in September. “I very much hope, some two months after he was sworn in, his diary commitments will allow us to meet,” he said.
The Ministry of Justice said that Raab “was unable to make the event but has engaged with the sector and will continue to do so”.
Raab, a former Linklaters lawyer, was demoted as Foreign Secretary and took over as Justice Secretary from barrister Robert Buckland MP in September. He came under fire over his handling of the withdrawal from Afghanistan.