Would you have Tony in your set?

Tony Blair may have won a landslide victory in last week’s election but the bar has fully endorsed his decision never to return to practice by voting overwhelmingly that they would not accept him as a tenant.

`Blair had told last week’s Sunday Times that whatever he did in the future he “would definitely not go back to the bar”. But in a survey of the UK’s 20 leading chambers, conducted by The Lawyer, 12 would have rejected his tenancy application anyway.`Only six sets would jump at the chance of having a former Prime Minister in their ranks, and two were don’t knows.`Blair was called to the bar in 1976. In 1981 he was one of nine junior tenants who followed Lord Irvine of Lairg to form 11 King’s Bench Walk, perhaps not surprisingly one of the chambers to give the Prime Minister the thumbs-up.`James Goudie QC, the set’s joint head of chambers, said: “Of course we would [have him]. He had a very successful practice here, in both employment and commercial law, and we were very sorry to lose him as such. All that is unusual is his length of absence and the office he has held, but otherwise he could come back and resume normal service.”`Others were less generous. “No, we wouldn’t take him here, he has nothing to offer,” said one head of chambers.`Another said: “No, not because he’s Tony, but we certainly wouldn’t collect him as a trophy. Opinion within chambers would be divided and there would be a few of the ‘over my dead body’ brigade.”`A senior clerk said: “What do they [politicians] bring back to chambers? In these days where we all panic about quality control he is an unknown quantity.”`However, John Powell QC, of 4 New Square, who himself stood as a Labour candidate in 1979, would not only have him back at the bar but would like him to contribute a chapter on politicians and civil servants to his publication Jackson & Powell on Professional Negligence.`Matrix Chambers, the set where his wife Cherie Booth QC is a tenant, refused to comment.