Campaign Against Antisemitism has submitted a complaint to the Bar Standards Board (BSB) after a prominent QC posted an inflammatory tweet online.
Jessica Simor QC, a human rights barrister with a large following on Twitter, last week tweeted an extract from a new law relating to immigration, along with the comment: “Heinous. Just like the Rwanda policy. Utterly heinous, heartless, cruel, appalling. And Raab, the son of a Czech Jewish refugee – astonishing he has no sensitivity to this. I hope, no Jew will stay silent on this. #grim”.
In response, we tweeted: “It is racist to observe the ethnic heritage of a politician whose policy you disagree with and extrapolate that everyone in that ethnic group is somehow accountable for his conduct and required to actively oppose it. We are filing a complaint with your regulator.”
Ms Simor then claimed that she had deleted the tweet because she “got a text from someone asking”, but insisted that she stood by it insofar as she had “expressed what I wanted to say.”
In a private e-mail to the barrister, we invited her to publish a statement of apology, recognising the danger of her choice of words. Such an apology would have made a complaint to her regulator unnecessary. Instead of taking the opportunity to inform her significant following of how to recognise and grow from one’s mistakes, she continued to defend herself in a series of further tweets and petulantly published our letter, ludicrously describing it as “threatening” and portraying it as case of “Jews bullying Jews who don’t meet their test.”
The “test” was left unspecified, but a subsequent review of Ms Simor’s Twitter activity gives reason for concern. For example, despite her many tweets on antisemitism in politics, she does not appear to have condemned it in Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party. In fact, she repeatedly accused the Conservatives of “smearing” the Labour Party by raising the issue. At one point, she even criticised The Telegraph for reporting on large numbers of Jewish people saying that they intended to leave the country if Mr Corbyn had been elected.
According to the BSB Code of Conduct, barristers are required to act with integrity and not “discriminate unlawfully against, victimise or harass any other person on the grounds of race… religion or belief…”