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The decision by St Philips Chambers to distance itself from former barrister Roger Grierson, who is to fight a seat for the British National Party (BNP) at the general election, has instigated heated debate among Birmingham lawyers.
Wragge & Co senior partner Quentin Poole said: “It’s possible to imagine a situation where an individual apple would taint the whole barrel, but it’s unlikely. We instruct St Philips and I’m quite sure our litigation partners will talk about this and decide what their view is.”
That said, an instructing partner at another Birmingham firm said that if Grierson had remained at the set its business would probably have suffered.
“I think [the set was] worried that in Birmingham there are a number of solicitors from ethnic minorities that instruct the chambers. What it boils down to is money,” he emphasised.
Tax specialist Grierson, who was a door tenant at the set, resigned last Thursday (TheLawyer.com, 25 March) after it emerged that he was to stand for the BNP at the general election.
While political belief is protected by the Bar Council’s equality and diversity code, Matrix Chambers barrister Aileen McColgan said this protection becomes problematic when those political beliefs are extreme.
“The code protects political belief, although the extent to which this would apply where the political belief at issue is, for example, racist is questionable,” she said.