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DEFEATED presidential candidate Henry Hodge has declared open war on Martin Mears revealing the existence of a caucus of Law Society Council members actively organising to oppose him.
In a defiant response to Mears' solicitors' conference call for his supporters to challenge sitting council members at the next elections, Hodge has accused the president of using the Law Society as a vehicle to peddle his own right wing views.
"There is a group of council members who are meeting regularly to ensure that the society is not hijacked by a series of maverick policies," he added.
He said Mears had effectively thrown down the gauntlet to the council members and someone, perhaps even himself, had to stand against him at the next presidential elections.
He revealed he had been invited to attend gatherings of around 10 council members who opposed Mears by David Thomas, who secured council approval for a resolution advocating Law Society reform at the last meeting.
News of the group's existence will drive a further wedge between the Law Society Council and Mears.
However, many council members will do their ut-most to try and avoid the creation of an adversarial two-party system within the Law Society.
But Mears said he welcomed contested elections. "I don't see a problem. It's no good having a council packed with people who oppose the president. If I find in the next few months certain council members are actively opposing me I will be pleased to see their seats challenged and I will actively assist the challengers."
Thomas, however, was swift to play down the group's opposition to the president.
"We're not in opposition to the president or the vice-president - we're a group who started talking before the election about the sort of Law Society we would like to see."
He said the election had created a climate for reform and hoped it could be carried out in co-operation with Mears and Sayer although he acknowledged the group did not share the same philosophy.
Asked if the group would put up an opponent to Mears at the next election Thomas said it was "far too early to speculate". "To a great extent that depends on what the president does."
Key members of the group are John Appleby, Simon Baker, Peter Williamson, David Keating, Richard Hegarty.