UK: More than 800 signatories to letter condemning Johnson and Patel’s attacks on lawyers
The Prime Minister and Home Secretary have been asked by more than 800 former judges and senior legal figures to apologise for endangering lawyers in a letter to The Guardian.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel are also accused of displaying “hostility” towards the profession and undermining the rule of law.
Signatories include three former Supreme Court justices as well as five former appeal court judges, more than 80 QCs, 69 law professors and the directors of Liberty and Justice.
Among the signatories are Lords Collins, Dyson and Walker as well as Sir Richard Buxton, Sir Anthony Hooper, Sir David Keene, Sir Alan Moses and Sir Stephen Sedley.
The letter states: “We are all deeply concerned at recent attacks, made by the home secretary and echoed by the prime minister, on lawyers seeking to hold the government to the law.
“Such attacks endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law, which ministers and lawyers alike are duty-bound to uphold.
“We invite both the home secretary and the Prime minister to behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future.”
Lord Dyson said: “What’s worrying is the inflammatory language used by the home secretary and supported by the prime minister. It was irresponsible and dangerous and quite unjustified to use inflammatory language of the sort. The language is almost the language of a demagogue.
“We all know what happens when people in high places and in power resort to language of that kind … they are whipping up emotions without justification. It’s dangerous.”
Dinah Rose QC, who is president of Magdalen College, University of Oxford, said: “The people at the heart of government whose role it is to ensure that the legal system and the rule of law are respected have either decided to remain silent or their voices are not being listened to.
“Where lawyers are abusing the system, they deserve to be criticised, but the problem is that the government’s attack is on any lawyer who is using the system to represent their clients. There’s an attempt to whip up hatred against lawyers for simply doing their job.”