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The Law Society’s top spin doctor is bailing out in a sudden departure that reignites speculation over the organisation’s communications and relationship with practising solicitors.
It emerged earlier this week (15 January) that Graham Capper – Chancery Lane’s head of corporate communications – will leave his post today (17 January). His move follows a bitter row at then end of last year between the society and criminal law solicitors over Chancery Lane’s alleged “appeasement” of ministers in their bid to slash legal aid rates.
That dispute climaxed in an acrimonious vote of no-confidence in the society’s two top figures, president Nick Fluck and chief executive Des Hudson. They have resisted calls to resign following their failed attempt to head off the no-confidence motion at a special general meeting, but the publicity around the legal aid negotiations with the Ministry of Justice has been embarrassing for the society. A long-standing society council member told The Lawyer earlier this week that it was expected both men would continue to cling onto their roles.
Similarly, a recent report in Private Eye magazine regarding Hudson’s tax arrangements and his moonlighting role as chairman of the Taxation Disciplinary Board has been a publicity black mark for Chancery Lane. The Law Society told The Lawyer that it “won’t comment on an individual’s tax arrangements”.
It is understood that Capper has been contemplating leaving his post for some time and that he mooted his resignation several months ago with the society’s leadership. There is no suggestion that he was forced to leave.
Capper himself joined the society at the end of 2011 when Chancery Lane was going through another trauma. His predecessor as spin-doctor-in-chief had just resigned amid a blaze of controversy. Stephen Ward – who was also the society’s “diversity champion” – had been lambasted by an employment for discriminating against one of Chancery Lane’s only disabled staff members (10 October 2011).
In an official statement issued, Capper said he had originally joined the Law Society on a short-term contract and had not intended to stay as long as he did.
“I’m leaving behind a strong comms team,” he said. “I’m proud of the work they have done and continue to do – and many bright and committed colleagues across the building, but it’s time for someone new to lead the team and to meet the challenges of presenting the society’s work to a diverse membership of 160,000 members, the public and those we seek to influence.”
The society declined to comment today on whether it would seek to fill the role of head of communications. Nor would it divulge the salary of the current role.