‘Utterly detached from the reality’, wrote one barrister on Twitter, as crumbling courts and case backlogs continue to blight justice system
A photo of the Ministry of Justice’s (MoJ) Christmas tree has sparked a flurry of outraged responses from criminal lawyers on Twitter.
The MoJ’s permanent secretary tweeted from her official account a photo on Friday showing the decorative tree up in the atrium of the MoJ’s London headquarters.
“It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas,” she wrote as the caption. “Still much to do between now and Christmas — but the tree is up at MOJ HQ!”
🎶 It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas 🎶
— Antonia Romeo (@AntoniaRomeoUK) December 3, 2021
The cheery tweet seems to have sent criminal barristers over the edge, with many questioning the MoJ’s priorities as courts across the country crumble and the backlog of cases continues to grow.
“Good to see you’ve got your priorities right,” tweeted Ben Edwards, a criminal barrister at Foundry Chambers. “[P]erhaps you should use the money you paid for this ridiculous tree to ensure crown courts’ heating worked or to ensure the ceilings aren’t falling in… instead you think THIS is more important?! Shocking. Get a bloody grip.”
Criminal barrister turned Labour politician Karl Turner MP waded in with a tweet saying: “How absolutely lovely. Let’s not mention the 75k cases blocked up in the crown wourts, criminal solicitors and barristers absolutely shattered and defeated. Court buildings crumbling and much more. We’ve got the Chrissy tree up! Well done Dominic Raab you are an absolute saviour.”
Meanwhile, academic and lawyer Becca Jiggens suggested the MoJ launch its own advent calendar with a twist.
Missed opportunity to have an MoJ Advent Calendar, reopening a closed court each day.
— Becca Jiggens remains fucking outraged (@beccajiggens) December 3, 2021
His chamber mate Nick Barraclough tweeted in response a photo of what appears to be a flooded corridor in a court building. “Them and us,” he wrote.
— Nick Barraclough (@nmbarraclough) December 3, 2021
Fellow criminal barrister Tony Kent shared an image of an out-of-use urinal in another court building to which other Twitter users responded, “Merry P*ssmas” and “MoJ literally taking the p*ss”.
— Tony Kent **No Way To Die** (@TonyKent_Writes) December 5, 2021
Prison Storm, a Twitter account dedicated to the state of the country’s prisons, wrote:
“…A groundswell of deep frustration exists across courts and prisons which is in stark contrast to the apparent festive cheer within the Westminster bubble.”
Just weeks ago Justice Secretary Dominic Raab irked barristers by sending a pre-recorded message to the annual bar conference whilst he was out at a Christmas festival and snapping selfies with a giant roller-skating Christmas pudding and bauble.
Raab said over the weekend that there will not be a MoJ-wide Xmas party this year amid concerns over new coronavirus variant Omicron. The MoJ will instead be holding “appropriate drinks at a smaller scale” — much to the delight of criminal barristers.
The MoJ has been approached for comment.