Irwin Mitchell boss steps down from LSB after Private Eye complaint

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Readers' comments (15)

  • I feel this is a great tragedy for both Michael Napier personally, and for the LSB. Having worked with Mike, I know him to be extremely consciencious; he has been unsparing in his outreach efforts for the profession; whether for the Law Society, APIL, Irwin Mitchell, or the Civil Justice Council. His honorary QC was richly merited, and he will feel this blow to his pride deeply.
    However, the SRA's handling of the investigation, and the complaint made against Napier had demonstrable flaws, and the Court of Appeal's judgement must be conclusive; the SRA must re-investigate, and the details published.
    Mike's firm support for the rule of law has been a hallmark of his career. The public interest in justice being done, and being seen to be done, applies equally to him, as it does to the many hundreds of people he has helped.
    He has made the right decision in stepping down to contest the allegations made by Mr Ford before the SRA.
    I hope that he will abide by the spirit of the ruling in accepting there is a public interest in knowing about these claims. Conflicts of interest are serious; one only needs remember the O'Brien decision to know this. I hope he would have made the decision to resign with the grace that has characterised his career.
    If the investigation is upheld, like O'Brien, I know he will do the decent thing for the firm. Given O'Brien's rehabilitation is now complete and he accepted his own penalty in a manner befitting both himself and Freshfields, I hope that Napier- and Irwin Mitchell would take note of this precedent.
    I accept, however, that Mike may also want his day before the SRA, like O'Brien did, (although in O'Brien's case, before a compromise was reached). If so, (and I hope Mr Ford's complaint is groundless), I hope Mike will continue to remain as active for Irwin Mitchell and in support of pro bono as possible.
    That message- of over thirty-odd years of work for ordinary people- should not be hidden by one complaint- serious though this is.

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  • In my 25 years in practice I have never known any solicitor as passionatley committed to the interests of his clients as Mike Napier. I hope that one incident, arising from his generosity in acting for a client for no fee, will not further derail an illustious career. I wish him all the best.

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  • I am sure I am not the only colleague or ex-colleague of Mike's who would point to him as an example for all that's good and ethical in this sector.

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  • I first met Michael in 1972, when he was the leading light in setting up and providing his services - pro bono - for the Free Legal Information Service in Sheffield.
    Subsequently, I have been involved in a number of cases with Michael - several pro bono, including to the ECHR.
    I have never had cause to believe other than that he has acted with the highest ethical standards and integrity at all times. He has always been prepared to go the extra mile on behalf of those he has represented.
    Isn't there some awful irony that the challenges he is having to address arise from pro bono representation?

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  • I have known Mike for nearly ten years and consider him to be a lawyer and a man of the highest quality. Steadfast, loyal, thoughtful and brave...it is an enormous shame that this matter could not have had a more proportionate outcome...

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  • Michael Napier is an unremitting champion for true justice and a gentleman. He has delivered more benefit, to more people, than most realise - whilst remaining humble and never seeking glory for glory's sake. Truly a man of integrity, charm and generosity.

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  • Quite how this row over the publication of the Scottish Legal Complaints Commission’s report escalated to the point that Michael Napier felt that he had no other option but to step down is a mystery?

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  • It is interesting that so many people are so supportive of such an apparent champion where his judicial peers found the conduct unsustainable and where he now considers it best to step down. To some it would seem obvious as to why he felt it necessary to step down given the various judicial desions from the oft maligned, particularly by Private Eye, Eady and his superiors. To others what a wonderful chap and pillar of integrity he is whose decision to walk is puzzling.

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  • Iago summed this saga up best in Othello...I think the line goes something like:
    "Reputation...oft gained without merit and lost without deserving"
    'nough said

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  • How can Michael Napier have been awarded a CBE in 2005 for his work promoting pro bono if he was under investigation and received a reprimand in the same month as being awarded it. Was his reprimand or the fact that he was being investigated ever disclosed???

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  • Max Barker: The point that James Price was arguing- that there was a duty of confidentiality between client and lawyer- didn't have weight with Eady and the CA, but I don't believe they were censuring his conduct per se, merely saying that it was in the public interest that the SLCC's decision be made public. So it isn't a judicial reprimand. However, there were regulatory failings in the SRA's handling, so it goes to a re-determination by the SRA. If they decide the conduct's indeed objectionable, Napier may be before the SDT, I imagine.
    J'Accuse: Cheap shot. Knocking the reputation of a man who has demonstrably dedicated 35 or more years of his life- as above- to working with others is unfair.
    An isolated incident, which has yet to be reheard, shouldn't, under any view, damn him absolutely. He's entitled to be presumed innocent until that rehearing.
    In terms of the CBE, ask the Cabinet Office, but he'd be entitled to the benefit of the doubt if the matter was ongoing, and an appeal if not. A reprimand's a professional punishment, but not so severe as to disentitle an honour.
    If unprofessional conduct's an issue, then arguably England's sportmen on the lash would be in more trouble. I don't see anyone asking Freddie Flintoff for his MBE back after the "Fredalo" incident. Or Stevie G after his night out in Southport, etc, etc.

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  • Surely part of the problem here is the egregious (mis)use of confidentiality laws to try and gag a free press? A man so sure of the integrity of his reputation need not use a High Court injunction to prevent open discussion of potential mistakes and failings, which might have been honestly made - but which after the extent of these desperate attempts to keep them out of the papers leave a rather unpleasant taste in the mouth.

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  • Surely Napier could not have admitted to the Ministry of Justice ( MOJ ) that he had been officially reprimanded and was at the centre of an investigation concerning his professional misconduct when he accepted the job directly from Jack Straw as the Legal Services Board - how on earth could this have occurred?

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  • More important to me in this case is the age-long complicity of the Law Society in protecting their leadership of any form of investigations while they routinely destroy many others most especially of ethnic background in the profession. It would be nice for Mr Napier to have a bite at the cherry on behalf of his peers and cohorts at the Law Society at least for once

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  • looks like Irwin Mitchell haven’t learned their lessons, But I can see why Natwest would use them!

    http://irwinmitchellscam.blogspot.com/2010/02/irwin-mitchell.html

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