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A leading member of a new group named the Anti Bar Council Establishment has been elected to the Bar Council, raising fears of major disruption and fierce internal opposition.
Robin de Wilde QC, a tenant of 199 Strand, who described the Bar Council as a "spineless organisation" in his election manifesto, was elected to the council by a landslide victory.
De Wilde won more votes than any other silk, based on an assessment of the council's single transferable votes system.
"The leaders no longer represent the great majority of the profession," de Wilde stated. "Barristers doing publicly funded work have been ignored or betrayed. Legal aid has been destroyed. The work of family lawyers has been devalued. The earnings of the criminal bar have not risen for six years. The bar completely panders to the Government - this is appeasement, and appeasement never pays."
The identities of the new group opposing the Bar Council have been well guarded, but de Wilde says that they are "descended" from the Slate, an infamous organisation that confronted the council's regime in the 1980s. One of the Slate's lasting successes was to restrict the governing role of the Inns of Court by separating it from the Bar Council.
De Wilde said he was surprised at the result and that he has between 15-20 members interested in running as candidates in next autumn's election.