Top ministers urged Priti Patel to stop attacks on 'activist lawyers'
Home secretary Priti Patel ignored warnings from at least two senior colleagues to stop targeting immigration lawyers after a knifeman threatened to kill a solicitor last month in an attack linked to her rhetoric, the Observer can reveal.
Lord chancellor Robert Buckland and attorney general Suella Braverman intervened after the attack to tell Patel that her targeting of the legal profession was already believed to have inspired an incident that might have left a solicitor dead.
Both asked Patel to cease her attacks on the legal profession, warning that more violence could materialise following the 7 September incident when a man entered a law firm in London armed with a “large, heavy duty knife” and embarked on a “racist, violent attack” that injured a staff member before the assailant was overwhelmed.
Patel, however, ignored the pleas from her two senior colleagues and during her speech to the Tory party conference on 4 October intensified her targeting of “do-gooders” and “lefty lawyers”. Two days later Boris Johnson went even further, telling the annual Conservative conference the criminal justice system was “being hamstrung by lefty human rights lawyers”.
Downing Street on Friday night refused to answer questions from the Observer about what Johnson knew of the attack, Patel’s alleged role in inspiring it and, if he did know, why he felt comfortable risking fresh attacks against lawyers.
Legal sources have confirmed that the first requests from fellow ministers to Patel to desist came two days after the knife attack, when officials from the Bar Council and ...
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