Many people are moved to take action to express their political beliefs and demonstrate the strength of their feelings. Sometimes this concludes in prosecution. Such prosecutions are often an attempt to prevent demonstrators exercising their right of free speech.
Several of the lawyers in our firm have been personally involved in such political action and we understand just how important matters of conscience are to our clients. These cases are not just a matter of defending a person accused of an offence. Often there are deeply held beliefs which influence the course the defence must take.
We have defended clients against charges arising from animal rights campaigns, protests against the war in Iraq, the campaign against the international arms trade and the response to the G20 meetings of heads of state.
We have represented many clients protesting at the restrictions imposed on public assemblies near the Houses of Parliament. Preventing these assemblies has breached the European Convention on Human Rights. We are happy to say that this law is now to be reversed.
We have acted for clients arrested at the Camps for Climate Action regarding the use of the coal fired power station at Kingsnorth, and on actions organised by Plane Stupid against the proposed expansion of airports. We are defending several clients who are being prosecuted for activities in support of the SHAC (Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty) campaign.
But there is another way in which politics and the law are intertwined. Professional politicians and journalists are currently subject to legal scrutiny – and police investigation – at unprecedented levels. High profile figures in this situation want advice from a politically literate source.
We know about electoral law and the rules on party funding, and we also comprehend the immense damage caused when a politician is touched by a police investigation. We have advised key political figures in such situations with notable success.
Equally, we know how vital it is that journalistic independence is preserved, and the constant vigilance which is required to defend it. We have challenged the police in court many times over their surveillance tactics and their attempts to seize journalists’ protected materials.
We aim to be one of the best sources of strategic thinking when a problem is political as well as legal.