Lawyers Condemn Priti Patel’s “Demonising” Comments
The Home Secretary’s “lefty lawyers” characterisation could provoke physical attacks on immigration lawyers, legal bodies have argued.
Legal bodies and leading immigration lawyers have slammed comments from Home Secretary Priti Patel attacking lawyers who defend asylum seekers, with the Law Society claiming that her comments have put lawyers at increased risk of verbal and physical abuse.
During a speech at the Conservative Party conference on Sunday, Patel linked lawyers defending migrants with human traffickers who help them cross international borders.
“No doubt those who are well-rehearsed in how to play and profit from the broken system will lecture us on their grand theories about human rights,” she said. “Those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour party – they are defending the indefensible.”
The Home Secretary’s speech quickly drew rebukes from across the legal profession. “The fact that a lawyer represents an asylum seeker does not make them a ‘lefty lawyer’,” said Law Society president Simon Davis in a statement on Monday. “It simply makes them a lawyer. Attacks on members of the legal profession for doing their jobs do our country no credit.”
“Slinging insults at lawyers undermines the rule of law in an area where views are already hotly held on all sides and risks leading to verbal abuse and to lawyers being physically attacked for doing their job,” Davis continued.
Amanda Pinto QC, Chair of the Bar Council, also condemned Patel’s rhetoric. “Attempting to paint lawyers with the ‘leftie’ brush seeks to demonise the very people helping constituents every day, without agenda, simply because they provide a vital public service,” she said.
“As the Lord Chancellor, a member of the Cabinet, said publicly a few days ago, ‘it is wholly wrong for any professional to be threatened, harassed or worse, attacked simply for doing their job – we must call it out and deal with it. And make the point that those who attack people providing a professional service will be subject to that very same rule of law.’”