zippy china

"As for Ch-"

The 36 Group, a barristers' chambers in London, has denied that it suggested to its members that they should not criticise China in case it impacted lucrative work in the region.

A source said an email was sent to everyone in chambers at The 36 Group which "suggested" that members "should not come out in support of Essex Court Chambers or say anything that is critical of China's human rights record". RollOnFriday has not seen the email.

Essex Court Chambers has suffered an exodus of barristers since China imposed sanctions on the set because of an opinion produced by four of its members which concluded that there was "a very credible case" that "crimes against humanity" were being committed against the Uyghur population in China's Xinjiang region, including "enslavement, torture, rape, enforced sterilisation and persecution, and the crime of genocide".

Essex Court attempted to limit the damage by distancing itself from the work, and last week a mole claimed the chilling effect had reached The 36 Group as well. "All members of chambers are self-employed, and never before have barristers been told by their chambers to not criticise one country", said the source. They said that many barristers at 36 Group specialised in human rights law, yet now "presumably chambers would not want its members to carry out any human rights legal work which criticises China". 

"This strikes at the heart of the independence of counsel", said the source, and "is precisely the consequence China wanted from their sanctions. To silence the English Bar".

The anonymous source did not successfully attach a copy of the "controversial" 36 Group email in their correspondence with RollOnFriday (wherever you are, please try again, thank you please), and the chambers rejected their interpretation of its contents.

In a statement, The 36 Group said the source's description of the email "mischaracterises its content".

"We have never sought and will never seek to silence our members, who, as self-employed barristers, regularly express their personal views on a wide variety of matters, and act professionally and fearlessly on instructions for a diverse range of clients and across multiple specialist areas, as of course do other sets of chambers", it said.

If you've been silenced, write in quietly.

Note: RollOnFriday now has the email. Tune in next Friday.

Tip Off ROF


Badiucao 26 April 21 09:32

If the rule of international law is worth anything at all, everyone should be shouting *very loudly* about the ethnic cleansing, mass incarceration of millions of people, slave labour, forced sterlisations and killings to order for organ harvesting. 

What kind of a world do we live in where we have Holocaust memorials but fail to address the same thing happening *right now*. Is it because they are non-white European?  A human life is a human life.

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Anonymous 26 April 21 11:48

"precisely the consequence China wanted from their sanctions. To silence the English Bar"

Yes. It is the organisation which the tyrannical regimes of the world fear most.


Indeed, amongst Russian exiles it is well known that at night Putin trembles in his bed at the thought of being subject to moving oratory from a man named Tarquin wearing a horsehair wig. For he knows that if only the voices of all London's Tarquins, Ruperts and Henriettas spoke as one, that his whole empire would come tumbling down around him.

As would the Empires of China, Brazil, and all the other global baddies that get bad writeups in the Guardian, such would be the force of the wordy lectures emanating from the Inns of Court. The world would be washed clean of all sin, leaving only Biden's America, Jacinda's New Zealand, and the saintly EU standing*.

It's why Xi is dedicating China's finest minds to shutting up a handful of lawyers at Essex Court.


 *Obviously only the good bits. Like, nasty Orban would have his country turned into a bit of Austria overnight, and South Carolina would just blip out of existence or something. But the whole place would probably turn into the nice bits of New York and LA but governed over by the friendly Danish people of our imagination (not the anti-immigrant government of Denmark that actually exists). Everyone richer than us would pay lots of tax, that's for sure. But we'd still go on holiday to our second homes in Provence, and nobody would make us briefly show a passport at the border ever again.

Anonymous 27 April 21 10:16

Well the English Bar is remarkably silent on the treatment of the Palestinians in Israel and the human rights abuses going on there (which amounts to apartheid according to Human Rights Watch). In fact, there is a notable lack of criticism in the UK towards Israel, even amongst those, such as Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis, who have been vocally critical of China’s human rights abuses towards the Uighurs. 

Anonymous 27 April 21 15:43

Yes, one seldom hears about Palestinians anywhere.

Why, if there's one foreign policy issue that you never hear a peep about, it's Palestine. Especially, and I mean especially, from London based progressives. Just go on any rally you like and you'll see a constellation of the flags of Darfur, Tibet, and Eritrea being waved - but do you see anyone wafting a Palestinian flag around? Literally never.

People just never talk about the place - and they praise Israel all the time (certain former Labour leaders were famous for it, in fact)!

And I think we all know - and I'm sure that there must have been some kind of official independent investigation that has said this - that if there's one group of people that London's Labour supporters love more than all others, it's Jewish people. I mean, they just can't stop posting supportive comments that celebrate their identity. Twitter, Facebook, you name it... a steady stream of gushing endorsements free of any kind of unevidenced racist vitriol. It's remarkable, they just don't heap that kind of unthinking praise on any other minority group. Do they?

So, y'know, I'm not saying that the progressive metropolitan population of the London Bar's staunch refusal to ever talk about Palestine is because it's full of people who love Israel (and its Jewish inhabitants) just a little bit too much. Suspiciously too much, you might think. But I'm just noting it as a bit of a curious coincidence.

Do you get me?

Anonymous 27 April 21 18:35

Couldn’t the 36 Group issue a statement condemning China’s sanctions on Essex Court like the Bar Council have done?

And whilst you’re at it, maybe condemn genocide too?

Anonymous 28 April 21 15:24


“Do you get me?” 

No mate, I haven’t got a fvcking clue what you are on about. 

Anonymous 28 April 21 17:35

Oh look someone mentioned the hypocrisy of the open criticism of China versus the deafening silence on Israel and straight away there is a response claiming anti-semitism - Pavlovian conditioning at its finest. 



Anonymous 28 April 21 19:32

An interesting question for the 36 Group would be whether they support the Bar Council statement....a simple yes or no will do

Anonymous 29 April 21 15:42

Weren't they pointing out that there's no 'deafening silence' at all? 

Rather, that many people are constantly critical of Israel re: Palestine - to the point of obsession - but that they seldom seem to concern themselves much with other similar abuses of power elsewhere?

You might call them anti-semites, I couldn't possibly comment.

Anonymous 29 April 21 22:22

But let’s play that game then - the criticisms of China are motivated by sinophobia, the criticisms of Saudi Arabia by islamophobia etc, nothing to see here, now move along....

Also wasn’t the original poster’s point rather the reverse - that those who are very vocal in calling out human rights abuses by China (like the Chief Rabbi) are silent when it comes to calling out human rights abuses by Israel. 

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