Top chambers suspends sending pupil barristers to Stratford Mags following claims of ‘invasive searches’

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By Rhys Duncan on


HMCTS says it’s urgently investigating allegations

A leading London chambers says it will not be sending its pupil barristers to Stratford Magistrates Court following allegations of “invasive searches” conducted by security.

Garden Court Chambers expressed concern over the reports of invasive searches at Stratford Magistrates’ Court, stating that “as a Chambers we have a duty to ensure our pupils’ safety and wellbeing”.

The statement published yesterday goes on to say that it “would risk breaching those obligations” if it sent pupils to the court before the allegations have been fully investigated and resolved. “As such, we shall not be sending our pupils to this court until that happens,” the statement added.

The decision comes after several lawyers raised concerns about the approach to security at the court.

In a recent letter addressed to the head of security at HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS), the London Criminal Courts’ Solicitors’ Association expressed deep concern over reports of “over-zealous and heavy-handed” enhanced searches, finding them “extremely concerning”.

The association said these enhanced searches can include the “use of a ‘wand’ metal-detection device, ‘pat down’ search (often after the subject has been asked to move to a secluded area, off the foyer), removal of clothing (most notably shoes) and an extensive property search, which includes inspection of privileged legal documents and the requirement that the entire contents of bags be emptied out onto a tray.”

Some complaints received by the LCCSA talk about a host of other security actions “which range from the absurd to the genuinely disturbing,” the letter continues. These claims include lawyers being required to spray deodorant and perfume on their body and apply lip balm onto their lips, with one professional subjected to “an oral examination”.

While acknowledging security concerns within the court following recent “protest-related trials” which led to “some disruption”, the group said “this is causing distress and inconvenience to our members that they should not have to endure as part of their working day”.

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“I am sure you can appreciate that our members must enter the court building because they have professional obligations to the court and to their clients to be present within the court building on time,” the letter continues. “They are therefore effectively forced to endure whatever is imposed upon them by the security staff because if they refuse or raise objection at the time, they will not be allowed into the building and this is obviously not an option for them.”

A HMCTS spokesperson said: “These are serious complaints and we are urgently investigating them as a matter of priority. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this stage. Our security measures are designed to protect the safety of all court users within our premises and remain under constant review. They are put in place in consultation with judiciary and the police.”

A Law Society spokesperson commented that “a number of serious incidents” had been brought to its attention, following a “pattern of alleged rogue behaviour”.

“We are making urgent enquiries of HMCTS to establish the facts and to secure assurances as to the safety of our members,” the spokesperson added.



I have a list of courts I would not like to be sent to please… most of them are ones which require me to travel up the night before.

Garden Court… would be, wouldn’t it…


Seriously not the point

Yes because not wanting your crotch fondled makes you a snowflake. Thank you for the gratuitous sex pest attitude.


i also made a complaint about anti semitism at the same court ,when they saw i had a skull cap in my bag they then insisted on a pat down search and taking my shoes off i was then searched a second time answer from the court was this isa protest day despite seeing my solicitor clsa card


i have been told that if you refuse to attend as duty despite safety the court will report this to the LAA

Dooby Scoo

The fact that they were sending people to the Mags suggests that they are not a top Chambers.

Our pupils are in the Crown Court from Day 1 of second six.

Seriously not the point

If you have nothing nice or relevant to say maybe shut up Dooby?

Just saying

Methinks “Seriously not the point“ is an offended Garden Courter who is of the ilk that claims to champion human rights and free speech as long as the free speech that is being championed is the “right sort” of free speech- and that everyone else should shut up.

I heard a Garden Court pupil recently made a complete ass of themselves in Court for just this reason.

Civil barrister

Does the Bar Council Entry Pass system not apply in criminal (Mags) courts? I use it in the tribunals and dont get searched at all (or have to stand and wait in line at busy times..


As far as I’m aware it does, unless it’s a court handling terrorist cases, so only CoW. It’s certainly true at the security at some Court centres is a battle and excuse just to mess the lawyers about for the sake of it.

You’re talking about me

You can thinks whatever you want but I’m not even a barrister. Nice strawman by the way. So when someone you don’t like says something you don’t like, *they* are being hypocritical about free speech *and should take it back*? Pleading free speech in response to criticism is clutching at straws.

Buffs Bacon

U OK, hun?


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