Dear Nigel and Tony,
When I wrote my open letter to you I said at the time that if the Bar voted to keep the deal I would give you my apologies. I am anxious to keep my word so here I am apologising. It is only right that I do so publicly.
I do not apologise for having spoken up for what I believe to be right. I continue to believe I am right (I am obviously always right) and think that it was important that the Bar had their say in matters and that the question was debated openly. The CBA are to be applauded for hosting a balanced debate.
I am sorry that you and other officers of the CBA were subjected to any personal abuse. I am not suggesting that anyone is ever immune from criticism but that is very different from abuse. At least now those from outside the Bar can see that the decisions taken have a popular support amongst the rank and file. They should no longer be seen as just “your” decision but a decision taken by appropriate democratic process. I will allow myself this one lament – that the energy expended by so many in debating the issue was matched in equal amount by the apathy of some in not voting.
The vote demonstrates that you had judged the mood of a significant proportion of the criminal bar and my own view was out of step with them. I expect everyone can agree that there are many difficulties that lie ahead. I foresee that we are a long way from securing a future for the Criminal Bar so let us hope that my streak of being wrong continues!
When Tony stepped into the lion’s den and addressed the meeting of the Northern Circuit something that I have long believed was brought into sharper focus. In the future we have to ensure that the people in the room negotiating with the Government are only the people that have been directly elected by the Bar or special interest group. Those elected representatives should only come from a pool of candidates unfettered by artificial rules that limits the pool.
As the elected representatives of the Criminal Bar there can be little doubt about your mandate in respect of the decisions taken. Although not always in agreement with every step taken I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for the work you have done on our behalf.