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Priti Patel shrugs off attack by lawyers

Priti Patel shrugs off attack by lawyers and brands their reaction to her criticisms ‘ridiculous’

  • More than 800 former judges and legal figures signed a letter calling on the Home Secretary and Boris Johnson, to apologise for their ‘hostility’ 
  • They have described lawyers who seek to frustrate Government policy as ‘activists’ and ‘Lefties’ 
  •  Miss Patel’s spokesman urged the lawyers who signed it to ‘get back to work’

Priti Patel doubled down against ‘activist lawyers’ last night after they accused her of jeopardising both their safety and the rule of law.

More than 800 former judges and legal figures signed a letter calling on the Home Secretary, and Boris Johnson, to apologise for their ‘hostility’ toward the profession. 

The two politicians have been critical of lawyers who seek to frustrate Government policy, describing them as ‘activists’ and ‘Lefties’.

Published in The Guardian, the letter said: ‘Such attacks endanger not only the personal safety of lawyers and others working for the justice system, as has recently been vividly seen; they undermine the rule of law, which ministers and lawyers alike are duty-bound to uphold.’

Home Secretary Priti Patel was accused  by ‘activist lawyers’ of jeopardising both their safety and the rule of law

But Miss Patel’s spokesman dismissed the criticisms and urged the lawyers who signed it to ‘get back to work’ as soon as possible. 

He added: ‘Are Left-wing lawyers above reproach and to be free of all criticism? It is truly ridiculous.’

Signatories included former Supreme Court and High Court judges and more than 80 QCs. 

In August the Home Office had to scrap a video that accused ‘activist lawyers’ of undermining asylum laws.  

At the Conservative Party’s online conference earlier this month, PM Boris Johnson upped the rhetoric by observing his party was ‘stopping the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the Home Secretary would doubtless – and rightly – call the lefty human rights lawyers, and other do-gooders’.

Lord Dyson, former Master of the Rolls and head of civil justice, who signed the letter said: ‘The rule of law depends on an independent judiciary as well as an independent legal profession, fearless in its representation of those who cannot represent themselves, however unpopular their case may be.

‘That is why unwarranted and inflammatory attacks, such as those recently made by the Home Secretary and endorsed by the Prime Minister on lawyers who represent immigrants and asylum-seekers, pose a real threat to the rule of law and are so dangerous.’

Former director of public prosecutions Lord Macdonald, who also backed the letter, said: ‘The Home Secretary and Prime Minister should recognise that words have consequences.

‘Mimicking the language of lawyer-baiting populists is demeaning and dangerous, and a crude attack on the rule of law.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘Lawyers play an important role in upholding the law and ensuring people have access to justice.

‘They are, however, not immune from criticism.’

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Priti Patel pays £45k for life membership at Marylebone Cricket Club

Good Lord’s! Priti Patel stumps up £45,000 to take up life membership at the exclusive Marylebone Cricket Club

  • Home Secretary took advantage of offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list
  • Most wait 20 years for right to walk into Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket
  • To help meet £30m in lost revenue from Covid, MCC this summer offered life membership to existing annual members and those on waiting list – like Ms Patel

Priti Patel has forked out tens of thousands of pounds to get into one of the world’s most exclusive sporting clubs – the MCC.

The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Home Secretary has paid £45,000 to become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club.

She has taken advantage of an offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list and take up life membership.

People usually wait over 20 years for the right to walk into the Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket.

Priti Patel has forked out tens of thousands of pounds to get into one of the world’s most exclusive sporting clubs – the MCC. The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Home Secretary has paid £45,000 to become a member of the Marylebone Cricket Club. (She is seen above at Lord’s cricket ground in 2018)

Ms Patel has taken advantage of an offer to jump its notoriously long waiting list and take up life membership. People usually wait over 20 years for the right to walk into the Lord’s pavilion and watch Test cricket

But to help meet £30 million in lost revenue from the virus crisis, the MCC this summer decided to offer life membership to existing annual members and candidates on the waiting list – like Ms Patel.

A source close to the Home Secretary, 48, confirmed Ms Patel, who has been on the waiting list for ‘several years’, had taken up the offer.

The source said: ‘As a lifelong cricket fan and at a difficult time for the sport, Priti has joined MCC as a lifetime member.’

He brushed aside any suggestion the MCC had had to ‘chase her’ for the cash, saying Ms Patel is a ‘very busy woman’.

Life membership is sold on a sliding scale, with younger applicants paying more than elderly ones for the right to wear the club’s ‘egg and bacon’ tie.

However, Ms Patel’s move has surprised some fellow MPs. One said: ‘As this damn virus crisis means there may well not be much live cricket at Lord’s for a while, that’s quite a lot of cash to fork out.’ 

Another added: ‘To be honest, I didn’t realise Priti was interested in cricket.’

Bumping into another member could prove a little awkward – former PM Theresa May. Mrs May (above, at Lord’s in 2019), who joined two years ago after her application was fast-tracked, sacked her as international development secretary in 2017 when Miss Patel was accused of failing to disclose full details of meetings she had with political figures during a trip to Israel

It means she will rub shoulders with other famous MCC members, including Sir Mick Jagger, Prince Charles and Captain Sir Tom Moore, who was given honorary membership in May after his lockdown fund-raising heroics.

But bumping into another member could prove a little awkward – former Prime Minister Theresa May.

Mrs May, who joined two years ago after her application was fast-tracked, sacked her as international development secretary in 2017 when Miss Patel was accused of failing to disclose the full details of meetings she had with political figures during a trip to Israel.

The scandal appeared to have destroyed Miss Patel’s career until she was brought back by Mrs May’s successor in No 10, Boris Johnson.

Would-be MCC members must be proposed and seconded by existing members as well as being ‘vetted’.

Reports last month said that the life membership move had covered the club’s Covid-related losses by bringing in £30 million over the summer.

However, some members are understood to have protested that the move bypassed tradition for commercial gain.

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Priti Patel vows to overhaul 'broken' asylum system

Priti Patel vows to overhaul ‘broken’ asylum system and crack down on migrant crossings to stop people ‘taking our country for a ride’ – as she accuses Labour of trying to ‘silence’ her because she ‘does not conform’ to their idea of ethnic minority views

  • Priti Patel used Tory conference speech to pledge major asylum system overhaul
  • Home Secretary said help vulnerable by stopping people ‘taking country for ride’
  • Accused Labour of bid to ‘silence’ her as she doesn’t ‘conform’ to stereotypes 

Priti Patel today vowed to stop people ‘taking our country for a ride’ by overhauling the ‘broken’ asylum system and cracking down on migrant crossings.

The Home Secretary pledged the ‘biggest overhaul in decades’ as she warned that the current arrangements are not ‘firm or fair’.

In her keynote speech to Tory conference, Ms Patel said that toughening enforcement and preventing abuse of the rules was the best way to ‘protect the vulnerable’.

The Cabinet minister also lashed out at Labour MPs berating her over her strong stance on law and order issues, saying she would not change tack just because she did not ‘conform’ to their idea of the views ethnic minorities should hold.  

Ms Patel told the conference, being held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, that ‘do gooders and lefty lawyers and the Labour Party’ had to stop ‘defending the indefensible’ on asylum system.

‘We will protect those most in need and put the rights of those who respect the rules above those who take our country for a ride,’ she said. 

The impassioned speech came after a furious row over the leaking of ‘blue sky’ ideas for reforming asylum arrangements and stemming migrant crossings.

Proposals have been floated including introducing a processing centre on Ascension Island, 4,000 miles away, and even using wave machines in the Channel.

However, government sources have insisted the ideas were only ever considered in brainstorming sessions, and complained that they are being leaked to damage ministers. 

In her keynote speech to Tory conference, Ms Patel said that toughening enforcement and preventing abuse of the rules was the best way to ‘protect the vulnerable’

Border Force brings a group of would-be migrants back to shore in the Channel last month 

Ms Patel said that under the Conservatives the UK ‘has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties’.

‘A fair asylum system should provide safe haven to those fleeing persecution, oppression or tyranny,’ she said. 

‘But ours doesn’t. Because our asylum system is fundamentally broken. And we have a responsibility to act.’

Ms Patel said: ‘From the expulsion of Ugandan Asians from a repressive regime, to proudly resettling more Syrian refugees than any other EU country, to supporting campaigners fleeing political persecution in Hong Kong.

‘Under Conservative leadership, the United Kingdom has and always will provide sanctuary when the lights are being switched off on people’s liberties.

‘So, I will introduce a new system that is firm and fair.

‘Fair and compassionate towards those who need our help. Fair by welcoming people through safe and legal routes.

‘But firm because we will stop the abuse of the broken system.

‘Firm, because we will stop those who come here illegally making endless legal claims to remain.

‘And firm, because we will expedite the removal of those who have no claim for protection.

‘After decades of inaction by successive governments, we will address the moral, legal, practical problems with this broken system. Because what exists now is neither firm nor fair.

‘And I will bring forward legislation to deliver on that commitment. I will take every necessary step to fix this broken system. Amounting to the biggest overhaul of our asylum system in decades.’

The Home Secretary promised ‘accelerate’ the operational response to illegal migration.

Discarded clothes and and shoes were spotted strewn across the beach on Tuesday morning

She said: ‘We will continue to hunt down the criminal gangs who traffic people into our country.

‘I will continue to use the full force of our outstanding National Crime Agency and intelligence agencies to go after them.

‘We will make more immediate returns of those who come here illegally and break our rules, every single week.

‘And we will explore all practical measures and options to deter illegal migration.’

Ms Patel went on: ‘As for those defending the broken system – the traffickers, the do gooders, the leftie lawyers, the Labour Party – they are defending the indefensible.

And that is something I will never do.

If at times it means being unpopular on Twitter. I will bear it.

If at times it means Tony Blair’s spin doctor mocking my accent. So be it.

And if at times it means Labour Members of Parliament attempting to silence me because I do not conform to their idea of what an ethnic minority woman should stand for. I will stomach it.

Because as Conservatives, we do not measure the depth of our compassion in two hundred and eighty characters on Twitter, but in the actions we take and the choices we make.

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