That’s an outrageous statement – and of course it’s complete nonsense. But had I written a report on the news media that included that statement, the Herald’s Patrick Gower and his colleagues would have been loud and furious in their condemnation of me and my work.
But apparently when lawyers are the subject of a vicious slur we ought to sit back and take it. That’s certainly Gower’s view.
You may recall that the Bazley Report had this shocker in it:
I have also been told that up to 80% of the lawyers practising in the Manukau District Court could be gaming the legal aid system.Gower thinks lawyers are being unreasonable and obstructive towards the Bazley report, and that they have to accept responsibility for the failings of the legal aid system:
Sometimes it is worth pleading guilty and getting it over. Then you can move on and make amends.What are they pleading guilty to? Being corrupt? Why doesn’t Gower just say so?
Lawyers should know this better than anyone.
He doesn’t think it’s a big deal that Bazley tarnished the reputations of a large number of Manukau practitioners:
Bazley’s Dame Margaret may have been loose on a couple of points and extra sharp with some of her criticismSo it doesn’t really matter that she accused a large number of legal aid lawyers of being dishonest. Get over it, lawyers. It’s no big deal, guys. So you’re corrupt. Move on.
Bazley’s “loose” language was of course seized upon by the news media, who were more than happy to stick the boot into the legal profession.
The Law Society then inevitably stepped in to defend its members from the outrageous slur. This unavoidably drew some of the public focus from other aspects of the report. But what else could the Law Society have done? Allow a public servant to issue a report accusing large chunks of the profession of corruption, and not bite back?
Gower clearly believes lawyers have no right to defend themselves when they’re accused of corruption. That is an attitude I have a problem with.
And, for the record, the Law Society has welcomed a number of Bazley’s recommendations.
So what is Gower on about?