No photoshop needed. What a pudding.
Barristers have slammed Dominic Raab after he missed the annual bar conference and then tweeted a selfie with a roller-skating Christmas pudding and bauble.
Raab failed to attend the conference last Saturday, opting instead to open his constituency's Christmas festival. A number of barristers were not impressed with the Lord Chancellor's priorities, particularly given current concerns over the pay for criminal barristers, and a backlog of some 60,000 cases in the Crown courts.
Raab sent a pre-recorded video message which was aired at the conference, where he thanked barristers for all their "hard work and dedication" and for their integral role "in keeping the wheels of justice turning".
A source close to the Bar Council told RollOnFriday that the video "didn't go down well" - which was a view shared by Kirsty Brimelow QC, vice chair of the Criminal Bar Association:
In an opening speech to the conference, the Bar Council chair Derek Sweeting QC said that he had not yet met Raab since his appointment as Lord Chancellor, "some two months after he was sworn in", but hoped Raab's "diary commitments will allow us to meet," the Law Gazette reported.
Sweeting added that the government's plans to reduce the backlog by only 7,000 cases by March 2025 (from 60,000 to 53,000 cases) were "unambitious".
Other barristers took to Twitter to vent their frustration about the Lord Chancellor's no-show, indicating why he may have preferred the company of people dressed as puddings:
“We welcome face-to-face meetings with the Secretary of State to discuss how we can work together to ensure the long-term sustainability of the criminal justice system," Jo Sidhu QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, told RollOnFriday.
Sidhu said that the government must acknowledge that prosecutors and defenders should be "highly motivated and properly remunerated" and "sufficient judges" were needed "to deal with the longest backlog of cases in the history of our country."
"The starting point is to recognise that the exodus of hundreds of criminal barristers will only be reversed by addressing the many years of decline in their real incomes and significantly improving their working conditions by providing the investment in our courts that is so desperately needed," said Sidhu.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Justice told RollOnFriday: "The Justice Secretary was unable to make the event but has engaged with the sector and will continue to do so".
UPDATE: Dominic Raab has now met Jo Sidhu QC. RollOnFriday understands the meeting took place at short notice: