The Law Society tweeted this yesterday:
We condemn a Home Office video referring to immigration lawyers who provide legal advice to migrants as ‘activist lawyers’.
Solicitors advise their clients on *their rights under the laws created by parliament*
— The Law Society (@TheLawSociety) August 27, 2020
It is now apparent that this claim by the government was not a ‘one off’. Note the quotes in this tweet:
If you wanted proof that the @ukhomeoffice deleting "that tweet" doesn't mean the damage isn't already done, just look at how often the term "activist lawyer" is used alongside terms such as "scupper" and "thwarted" in the Times today, rather than "Barristers upheld the law". pic.twitter.com/M0NAyMkezO
— Dan Sohege (@stand_for_all) August 28, 2020
That The Times is using the same language as the Home Office is not by chance: the aim is to discredit those lawyers who are doing what we expect lawyers to do in in a society that upholds the rule of law, which is to defend their clients’ rights as defined by law.
To vilify those lawyers who are defending human rights that are enshrined in law is deeply dangerous.
It suggests that the government sees lawyers as an enemy. That, of course, is part of the route to fascism.
It suggests that some people do not deserve the rights the law provides to them, as others do, but which only those others are entitled to enjoy. That, of course, is also part of the route to fascism.
And it eventually says that only those who conform to the government’s expectations should think of practising law. Again, that is part of the route to fascism.
And I think that if we have a government that is clearly on the path to fascism we have a duty to say so. So I am doing so.