Bar Council respond to warnings to the judiciary about ‘taking sides’ over Brexit

Posted On: 
23rd September 2019

The Chair of the Bar Council responds to a Sunday Times article in which a No 10 source was quoted as warning the judiciary about ‘taking sides’ over Brexit. Richard Atkins QC also refers to death threats made to a litigant in one of the Brexit cases, who’s home location was publicised on Twitter, prompting the police to make arrangements for his protection. 

Richard Atkins QC, Chair of the Bar Council, which represents barristers in England and Wales, said: “It is a low point in the history of our nation when a faceless ‘No10 source’ refers to "remainiac lawyers" and issues threats to the judiciary about its constitutional role suggesting that judges take sides. The rule of law and the independence of the judiciary are fundamental pillars of our democracy. Judges do not take sides as the Downing Street source suggests, but apply the law "without fear or favour." 

“This comment displays a complete failure to understand how our legal system operates and threatens to undermine the role of our independent judiciary and thus the rule of law. Downing Street must disassociate itself from a statement made by a “source” as it sends a message to the public around the world that the UK has abandoned the rule of law. 

“This comment comes at the same time as lawyers associated with litigation over Parliament’s role in Brexit are not only receiving death threats, but having the location of their family homes publicised on social media by a member of the press. Threats to lawyers and litigants are serious threats to the proper operation of our legal system and cannot and must not be tolerated.”