Tuesday 21 March 2023

Getting the best defence


The Guardian carries a profile of David Pannick KC, the high-flying and extremely expensive barrister engaged by Boris Johnson to support his attempts to prevent him from being found guilty of a contempt of parliament and being sanctioned in consequence. Like any good lawyer, he’s obviously set out to do the best for his client, giving him the best defence possible, although (also like any good lawyer) he’s probably well aware that the object he’s been given to polish isn’t exactly high in carats. But looking for potential loopholes, failures in procedures, possible infractions of natural justice (even if parliamentary rules mean that parliamentary processes cannot be challenged on such a basis) is all part of the job. After all, it’s allegedly a principle of British law that any defendant is entitled to the best defence possible (although the practice differs from the principle in that the best defence is only ever going to be available to those with enough money to pay for it).

Best defence possible - unless, of course, the defendants are asylum-seekers or migrants, in which case any lawyer following what looks in principle to be a remarkably similar course of action in order to give his or her clients the best chance of success would be dismissed and condemned by Johnson and his supporters as a ‘lefty lawyer’ seeking to obstruct the processes of government. There is another key difference as well, of course. Much of the work done by immigration lawyers is done wholly or partly on a pro bono basis in support of desperate people, but, as the Guardian notes, “Pannick is not known for doing much pro bono work but rather for his extremely high legal fees. The peer is known to charge approximately £5,000 an hour for his services.” But then, in Borisworld, that strange place inhabited by the man himself and a significant number of other post-truth Tories, the idea of doing something for nothing is probably enough in itself to put someone beyond the pale. Oh, and there’s another difference: in Johnson’s case, it isn’t even the client who’s paying the bills – it’s all coming out of government funds. Our collective generosity to a man who has done so much damage to all of us apparently knows few bounds.

1 comment:

dafis said...

I know that it goes against the grain for you John but in this case allowing the "law of the lynch mob"just 5 minutes would help clear the air for a lot of us.

I fear that this barrister's cartwheeling and tugging at obscure bits of law combined with the lack of morality among a large number of M.P's will contrive to get Fatso off the hook.