FOUR members of Law Society president Martin Mears' new reform group have moved to downplay the extent of its cohesiveness.
In a joint letter in this week's issue of The Lawyer, council members Angela Deacon, David Keating, David Savage and John Pickup insist the President's Reform Group (PRG) is not a party or faction within the council (see page 14).
The four council members claim the motives behind their decision to join the group, unveiled by Martin Mears last month, have been misunderstood. "Insofar as we have joined a 'group' this was on the basis that membership should be open to all," they assert.
"The object would be to create greater unity in the council not the opposite."
Since Mears' election as the head of a largely hostile council, there have been constant calls for unity from many senior council members who fear open conflict will be deeply damaging for the profession.
The signatories to the letter say they had made it clear to the president in their discussions with him that they were against the formation of a faction or party.
Their claims are at odds with Mears' assertion on the group's launch, that he and Robert Sayer needed "committed supporters" on whom he could rely.
Before the PRG was announced, Mears had circulated a draft New Law Journal article to all its members in which he stated that the group would help him and vice-president Robert Sayer "push through" their programme.
The article added: "The PRG will meet, decide and (generally) vote as a body."
Keating said he had seen the article, but vigorously denied it implied the formation of a president's party. "It's a very loose group, it's not a restricted group," he said.
Deacon said she had not had time to read the article and acknowledged there may have been a misunderstanding over the precise role of the group.