Hirst beats De Wilde in Bar Council vice-chair election

Jonathan Hirst QC has been elected vice-chairman of the Bar Council, beating veteran campaigner for greater democracy at the Bar Robin De Wilde QC.

Although the Bar Council has not released the voting figures, sources say Hirst won the poll “comfortably”.

It was initially thought two other candidates would stand – Julian Malins QC and Stephen Hockman QC – but in the end, the powerful establishment vote unified behind one candidate against maverick outsider De Wilde.

De Wilde burst onto the Bar's political scene in 1985 when he helped found the Bar democracy movement known as “the slate”.

This group also included Anthony Grabiner QC and Gareth Williams QC, who both went on to become Bar Council chairmen.

Last year, De Wilde caused a storm at the Bar's AGM by comparing the Bar Council to a communist regime. He was unavailable for comment at the time of going to press.

Hirst, head of the Bar's professional standards committee, is seen by some barristers as a combative figure, but he said he had received wide support.

He said he was “excited” and looking forward to working with new Bar Council chairman Dan Brennan QC.

He added that his priorities were legal aid and the Government's planned Bill on the modernisation of justice. He also pledged to help young barristers and gave backing to Peter Goldsmith QC's suggestion that chambers should be forced to recruit pupils in their last year of university (see analysis, page 17).

Douglas Day QC was elected as treasurer, beating Julian Malins QC.