The Home Office has deleted its tweet claiming that ‘activist lawyers’ were undermining the deportation of migrants – but the clash between government and the legal profession shows no signs of easing.
The official Twitter feed of the Home Office had posted on Wednesday that current immigration regulations were ‘rigid and open to abuse allowing activist lawyers to delay and disrupt reforms’.
By Thursday evening, the post had been taken down, with the Home Office permanent secretary Matthew Rycroft vowing it will not be used again.
In an email response to a complaint from Jonathan Fortes, professor of economics at Kings College London, Rycroft agreed the ‘activist lawyer’ phrase should not have been used on an official government channel. He made clear the post should not be used again from Home Office accounts or anywhere else by civil servants.
The 21-second Home Office video prompted an outcry from across the legal profession, which argued that immigration lawyers were simply enforcing parliament’s own rules and upholding the rule of law. Law Society president Simon Davis said: ‘We should be proud that we live in a country where legal rights cannot be overridden without due process, and we should be proud that we have legal professionals who serve the rule of law.’
Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council, said these ‘irresponsible misleading communications’ from the government were damaging to society and that lawyers were ‘merely doing their jobs, enabling people to exercise their statutory rights and defend themselves against those in power’.
But while the Home Office tweet has been taken down, it appears that efforts to undermine the legal sector from sections of the government have been ramped up.
A ‘government source’ told the Times today: ‘There’s a bunch of particularly loudmouthed lawyers and barristers who seem to spend more time on social media than representing their clients, who think even the mildest criticism of their profession will bring about the destruction of democracy.
‘It’s patently absurd and they’d be better off leaving this kind of hysterical ranting to Her Majesty’s Opposition.’
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