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LEGAL CHALLENGE Rwanda deal: PM’s anti-lawyer rhetoric ‘misleading and dangerous,’ lawyers warn

BORIS JOHNSON’S attack on lawyers challenging the government’s Rwanda plan is dangerous and undermines the rule of law, the Law Society slammed today. 

The legal profession has hit back at the PM after he claimed “liberal-left lawyers” were to blame for delays to plans to deport asylum-seekers to the east African country. 

Mr Johnson insisted the Rwanda plans will go ahead when questioned on legal challenges against the policy, telling reporters on this week: “Of course, there are going to be legal eagles, liberal lawyers, who will try to make this difficult to settle. 

“We always knew this was going to happen, but it is a very, very sensible thing.”

But Law Society president I. Stephanie Boyce said: “Anyone at risk of such a life-changing order has a right to challenge its legality with the assistance of a lawyer, who has a duty to advise their client on their rights.

“It is misleading and dangerous for the Prime Minister to name-call lawyers who are doing their job and upholding the law.

“Attacks like this, from the highest politician in the land, undermine the rule of law and can have real-life consequences.”

This is not the first time Tory ministers have been accused of stirring up hostility towards lawyers. 

In 2020, Home Secretary Priti Patel was accused of putting lawyers at risk of physical attack after blaming “activist lawyers” for frustrating removals of asylum-seekers.  

Soon after making the comments, an alleged far-right attack was launched on a London solicitor firm in September that year, with lawyers claiming the attack was directly motivated by Ms Patel’s comments. 

Detention Action director Bella Sankey accused Mr Johnson today of “inciting far-right hatred against lawyers.” 

She said: “When the Prime Minister needed help filling in his questionnaire from the Metropolitan Police he was keen to get legal advice himself, so why should traumatised refugees not get the same rights before they’re expelled to an oppressive regime halfway around the world?”

The plan, which seeks to send some Channel-crossing asylum-seekers on a one-way ticket to Rwanda, has been widely condemned as unworkable and inhumane. 

Several organisation, including Detention Action, Freedom from Torture, and the PCS union have launched legal challenges against the policy claiming it is unlawful. 

Freedom from Torture director of policy and advocacy Steve Crawshaw said: “The fact that Boris Johnson was anticipating legal action implies that he already doubts the legality of this cruel policy. 

“It is obvious that ministers are hiding behind court cases rather than admit that the plan is unworkable.”

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “We have won once in court against the pushback plans, and I suspect that he is worried that we will win again — because the plan is unworkable and inhumane."

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