One Step too far

Martin Mears is probably entitled to feel sore following September's Law Society Council meeting. After wining and dining selected Council members who promised to support his veto of the pay-off to Solicitors Complaints Bureau head Veronica Lowe if the item was moved into the private afternoon section, the council let him down.

As vice-president Robert Sayer says on the front page of this issue of The Lawyer, the "scales fell from their eyes" at that meeting. A fair point perhaps. The political manoeuvrings of the council have frustrated more than one president. And perhaps Mears felt that publicly chastising its members was the way to reach out to the rank and file members of the society. Nonetheless, it is an extraordinary way to conduct business and can only serve to emphasise the divisions in the profession which are becoming more apparent by the day.

Nothing, however, can justify the disgraceful attack on the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality. Lawyers visibly balked when they heard Mear's calls for the clipping of the wings of the organisations. His remarks that some tribunals had allowed themselves "to be highjacked (all too willingly, I fear) by the discrimination industry" and that the EOC and CRE had outlived their usefulness must be a grave cause of concern both to the profession and to society in general.

Both institutions have served to highlight the deep inequalities which impact daily on the lives of citizens in the UK. They have fought cases with this aim in mind. To say that the public rightly sees some of these cases as a racket undermines the whole equal opportunities ethos.

Closer to home, in case Mears has not noticed, the record of law firms on either issue is not one to boast about. Instead of making inflammatory comments, he would be better placed in working with the EOC and CRE to see how he can contribute to the debate on matters which adversely effect many of his constituents.