When the Legal Services Board was cited last year as an example of creeping state control over the legal profession, the board hit back, taking grave exception to any suggestion that it was a creature of government.
‘No decision made by the LSB and its executive has ever been at the "control", behest of or subject to any improper influence whatsoever by the government,’ chief executive Neil Buckley harrumphed. Members take their decisions ‘without fear or favour from government’, he claimed.
Last week, however, the LSB was dancing to a slightly different tune. A conference on legal regulation had been due to open with a session entitled ‘Preparing for the future: the Legal Services Board’s view of the regulatory landscape and other developments’.
Alas, the board had to pull out. The reason? The upcoming general election. A spokesperson explained that the LSB is a non-departmental public body and that there has been a change to the civil service purdah guidelines, which now state that purdah applies to such quangos.
‘Having read the guidelines we decided that our participation in the conference wasn’t compatible and we felt we had no choice but to withdraw,’ the spokesperson said. No fear or favour, then?