Obiter is not going to pretend that the monthly board meetings of the Solicitors Regulation Authority are big box office so far as the public is concerned. Frankly, we would be worried if they were. But Obiter’s reporter colleagues are still smarting at the regulator’s new policy of excluding the public and fobbing Her Majesty’s press off with a pre-packed ‘briefing’ afterwards.
To add insult to injury, journalists are not just missing out on the cut and thrust of board debate: the new policy also means they do not get to share the previously complimentary sandwiches.
As a result, last week’s press briefing did not get off to a great start. ‘Sorry we’re late, we were hungry,’ said one SRA executive a trifle smugly to three waiting hacks. ‘Now, what we can do for you?’
‘Any plans to review the decision to ban us and the public from your meetings?’ was the prompt challenge.
‘The public model wasn’t working, people were not turning up,’ chief executive Paul Philip replied. ‘You still have the opportunity to come and ask questions here.’
‘It shouldn’t be an either/or choice though, should it? It’s about transparency,’ the journalist shot back, visibly angry. ‘It reflects very badly on you as the regulator.’
‘We are not going back on our decision,’ Philip added firmly.
In other words: nothing to see here, folks. Obiter has a feeling this issue is not going away.