The Law Society has condemned Boris Johnson’s renewed attack on ‘left wing criminal justice lawyers’, warning that such divisive language could endanger lawyers and their clients.
In an interview with LBC’s Nick Ferrari this week, the prime minister suggested criminal practitioners act against the public interest. ‘When you look at Labour, you see a party that voted consistently against tougher sentences for serious sexual violent offenders. The Labour opposition has consistently taken the side of, I’m afraid, left wing criminal justice lawyers against, I believe, the interests of the public,’ he said.
Last year, the PM told the Conservative party conference that the criminal justice system was hamstrung by ‘lefty human rights lawyers’. Days earlier home secretary Priti Patel had denounced ‘lefty lawyers’ and ‘do-gooders’ in a speech on overhauling the asylum system.
Today, the Law Society said it was deeply concerned by the government’s repeated attacks. ‘This divisive language serves nobody and puts lawyers and their clients at risk,’ a spokesperson said.
‘Solicitors, whether acting for the prosecution or the defence, play an integral role in ensuring fairness, supporting victims and seeing that justice is done. Solicitors have a professional obligation to act in the best interests of their client, whoever they may be, and their personal and political views do not come into it. All solicitors advise their clients on their rights under the laws created by parliament.’
Lord chancellor Robert Buckland has yet to publicly comment on the PM’s remarks.
Questioned by MPs last November on the anti-lawyer rhetoric, he said: ‘Although, sadly, it might be the province of previous and current prime ministers to make provocative and sometimes lively comments about the legal profession, it is not the job of the lord chancellor to police every jot and tittle. I will continue to make sure that we get the tone of the debate right and that where we can improve on our language, we will do so.’