A group of more than 800 former judges and senior legal figures have signed a letter to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary Priti Patel calling on them to apologise for their “hostility” towards the legal profession.
The letter, which has been co-signed by three former justices of the UK Supreme Court along with 80 QCs and hundreds of barristers and solicitors, is in response to “recent attacks, made by the Home Secretary and echoed by the Prime Minister, on lawyers seeking to hold the Government to the law”.
In August, the Home Office was forced to abandon using a video which accuses “activist lawyers” representing migrants of trying to disrupt the asylum system after a barrage of complaints.
Earlier this month at the Conservative Party online conference, Boris Johnson ramped up the rhetoric in the battle between the Government and the justice system with his comments that the Tories were “stopping the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the Home Secretary would doubtless – and rightly – call the lefty human rights lawyers, and other do-gooders”.
Last week, 28-year-old Cavan Medlock was charged with a terrorist plot to kill a solicitor over his role in representing immigrants.
The letter, which was published in The Guardian, states: “Such attacks endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law, which ministers and lawyers alike are duty-bound to uphold.
“We invite both the Home Secretary and the Prime Minister to behave honourably by apologising for their display of hostility, and to refrain from such attacks in the future.”
A Government spokesperson told the paper the Government “is clear any form of violence is unacceptable”, adding: “Lawyers play an important role in upholding the law and ensuring people have access to justice. They are, however, not immune from criticism.”