Legal professions denounce attack on ‘lefty lawyers’
Northern Ireland’s solicitor and barrister professions have rebuked Prime Minister Boris Johnson for his disparaging remarks about “lefty human rights lawyers”.
In a party conference speech, Mr Johnson said his government is “stopping 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”.
His remarks following controversial comments in September by Home Secretary Priti Patel, who blamed “activist lawyers” for slowing deportations. A month prior, the Home Office had published and withdrawn a video containing the same phrase.
Rowan White, president of the Law Society of Northern Ireland, said: “It is deeply troubling to hear the Prime Minister repeat the Home Secretary’s recent attack on so-called ‘lefty lawyers’ for representing refugees and asylum seekers.
“Politicians’ ill-chosen words not only expose lawyers to the risk of harm but also serve to undermine respect for the Rule of Law in a sinister and insidious way. I think we are entitled to expect better of the Prime Minister.”
Bernard Brady QC, chair of the Bar Council of Northern Ireland, added: “The independence of the profession is a cornerstone of a civilised democratic society. It ensures equality of arms before the courts, whether the litigant is an asylum seeker or government minister.
“It is a civic value, which all citizens are entitled to expect government to uphold and protect. Members of the profession, carrying out their duties before the courts are entitled to expect that their independence will not be undermined or attacked in the pursuit of political expedience or convenience.”