Recently the Home Secretary Priti Patel used her platform at the Conservative Party Conference to criticise (you could go so far as to say attack) those within the legal profession who defend migrants.
In her keynote speech the Home Secretary described those who are working in the Immigration sector on the side of migrants as “the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour party – they are defending the indefensible.” Unfortunately, this cannot be viewed as an individual isolated, off-the-cuff, remark.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson went a step further by saying the ‘do-gooders’ are forcing the Government to intervene to prevent “the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung.” These comments have given cause for concern, and rightly so, especially for those who work within the sector.
It was just over a month ago the Home Office’s official twitter was forced into deleting a tweet that took aim at “Activist Lawyers.” It is not absurd for solicitors to be concerned for their clients but also concerned for themselves, given the Government’s prior and ongoing attacks on the judiciary.
It would seem that the Government has a track record of flaming and using rhetoric to justify their stance on those within the judiciary whose views differ to that of the Government. Casting our minds back to 2016, Liz Truss, the then Secretary of State and Lord High Chancellor, refused to criticise outlets who described Judges overseeing the Brexit Notification of Withdrawal as ‘Enemies of the State’, leaving judges feeling unsupported by our Government.
The Windrush Generation Scandal saw longstanding UK residents wrongly classed as illegal immigrants resulting in being denied access to employment and healthcare before then being targeted for removal. In the wake of the scandal mass deportation flights to Jamaica were halted awaiting the outcome of the inquiry and report into the scandal, which has only recently been published. The report criticised the Home Office’s handling of the Windrush generation where successive Home Secretaries apologised for the treatment of those individuals but also vowed to “put right the injustices that people affected have suffered.” It is hard to see how anyone can have any kind of confidence in this Government to uphold their vow given their recent alarming comments.
It is also ironic the Government is again taking aim at those working tirelessly to uphold the law, accusing them of corrupting the system, whilst they themselves propose to openly break the law through the Internal Market Bill.
This Government is also currently bulldozing the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill and again risk breaking international law. This will create a statutory presumption against prosecution of armed forces personnel for events that happened over five years ago, including torture and inhuman or degrading treatment. In it’s defence Veterans minister Johnny Mercer said “This legislation is not about providing an amnesty or putting troops above the law but protecting them from lawyers intent on rewriting history to line their own pockets.” Again, taking aim at those solicitors who wish to uphold the rule of law and seek justice, regardless of who is shown to have fallen short of the law.
Being part of the “particularly loudmouthed lawyers and barristers” has led to the ongoing development of society. It is clear, however, this Government doesn’t like us very much but as a profession we’re obviously doing something right.
If it were not for the lefty lawyers there would be no workers’ rights, improving working conditions including minimum wage, maternity and paternity leave. There would have been no inquiries and changes in law following the Windrush Generation Scandal, Hillsborough Disaster, policing during the miner’s strike, the ongoing fight for victims of Grenfell, and the various inquiries into historic childhood sexual abuse. The list goes on.
There is cause to be concerned about the Prime Minister and Home Secretary’s recent comments, however, the lefty lawyers are normally on the right side of history. Keep at it!
Blog by Daniel Canning, Solicitor