Helping people? What a bunch of mugs.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel have been accused of "shocking" attacks on the legal profession this week which endanger lawyers and court staff.
In his keynote address to the Conservative Party this week, the Prime Minister accused the "whole criminal justice system" of being "hamstrung by what the home secretary would doubtless and rightly call the lefty human rights lawyers and other do-gooders".
Earlier this week the Home Secretary used similar language in a speech promising to reform the "broken" asylum system by stopping the "endless" legal cases and making it easier to immediately send asylum seekers back.
Lumping human rights lawyers in with people traffickers, Patel said that "Those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do-gooders, the lefty lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible."
She said critics would "no doubt...lecture us on their grand theories about human rights".
That would have been nice, but instead lawyers found themselves defending themselves from the government's smears.
"It is shocking and troubling that our own prime minister condones and extends attempts to politicise and attack lawyers for simply doing their job in the public interest", said Amanda Pinto QC, chair of the Bar Council.
"Lawyers – including those employed by the government itself - are absolutely vital to the running of our grossly under-funded criminal justice system. Their professional duty is to their client and to the court, and not to play political games", she said.
James Mulholland QC, chair of the Criminal Bar Association, said it was the government’s own "short-sighted approach" which had caused the delays. After more than a decade of cuts to the rates set for legal aid fees and a chronic lack of investment across the criminal justice system, he said, "it has strung itself up, creating a backlog of criminal cases that are at five year highs".
Others warned that the demonisation of lawyers could result in physical harm.
Law Society president Simon Davis said that “slinging insults at lawyers" undermined the rule of law "in an area where views are already hotly held on all sides" and "risks leading not just to verbal abuse but to lawyers being physically attacked for doing their job".
Doughty Street barrister Simon Cox commented, “Patel doesn’t care if immigration lawyers - or staff who work with us - get murdered. She will have been warned of the risks. She deliberately chooses to take them. While the Lord Chancellor, Attorney General and Solicitor General are silent".
"Does she think her most extreme followers won’t attack immigration courts?"
RollOnFriday asked Patel if she was concerned that her language, and the PM's repetition of it, could result in physical attacks on lawyers or court staff. The automated Home Office reply stated that they would aim to provide a reply within a month.