you probably do not recall meeting me. I am just one of a number of angry lawyers that you have met with over the last year or so. When we met in the Town Hall in Altrincham, I was very angry and you were very wrong. Not much has changed.
At that time you were still peddling PCT and restrictions on client choice. You were pressing ahead with swingeing cuts to advocacy fees. You were proud of your residency test. So I suppose one or two things have changed. You have been comprehensively and repeatedly proved wrong. You have abandoned or delayed some of your more disastrous proposals. The courts have given you a bloody nose on others.
Have you changed? Not one bit.
At that meeting you innocently told the room of criminal barristers and solicitors, “I have been accused of saying that barristers are fat cats, I have never said barristers are fat cats.” And yet your department still trotted out dodgy statistics designed to steer other people to call us fat cats.
More recently you introduced the second reading of the lamentable ‘SARAH’ Bill which you said would tackle “a culture of ambulance-chasing that all too often is about generating opportunities to earn fees, rather than doing the right thing”. Now I am not exactly sure what SARAH is trying to achieve but you cannot help yourself by introducing it with a pop at lawyers.
So Chris, why is it that you hate lawyers so much? Why is it that you are more than happy for all sorts to earn vast amounts out of the justice system, as long as it is not the lawyers? Capita? G4S? Serco? They can have millions and millions of pounds of public money. Lawyers? They deserve crushing.
If any judge, academic, lawyer or lawyers’ representative joins you in the celebrations of the Magna Carta then the rest of the legal community should turn their back on them. No representative of the Bar Council should join you in what is no more than a culture of oligarch chasing that all too often is about generating fees.
The Magna Carta itself may not be all that it is cracked up to be. However it has come to represent all that we should be proud of in our legal system. The nebulous rule of law. The right of the individual and the state to be equal in the eyes of the law. The right to fairness and proper processes. The sort of things that lawyers help preserve every single day.
I am neither fat cat or ambulance chasing dog. I am a lawyer who is proud of what I do. A job that involves helping society to do the right thing.
Despite your best efforts, that will not change.