A tax barrister at Birmingham’s St Philips Chambers who went to the same Cambridge University college as British National Party (BNP) leader Nick Griffin has resigned from the set so he can fight a seat for the party at the upcoming general election.
Robert Grierson, who was until today a door tenant specialising in tax, trusts and wills and estate work, intends to contest the Sutton Coldfield seat at the forthcoming general election.
The BNP website states: “Barrister Robert Grierson will contest the Sutton Coldfield constituency […] Mr Grierson who was educated at King Edward’s School, which was the school that Enoch Powell attended [sic]. Robert then went on to attend Downing College Cambridge, the same college where Nick Griffin MEP received his higher education.”
In a statement St Philips said: “Robert Grierson has resigned from his position as a door tenant of St Philips Chambers from 25 March 2010. He accepted that his candidacy in the forthcoming election was a distraction to the proper work and approach of St Philips Chambers, its members and its staff. As far as St Philips Chambers is aware Mr Grierson remains in practice as a barrister as a sole practitioner from his home address, which has in fact been the position since December 2008.
“It is reiterated that St Philips Chambers was not aware that Mr Grierson was a member of the BNP and further that any views Mr Grierson purports to hold or express in the forthcoming election must be taken to be his own personal views and not that of St Philips Chambers or any of its members. Apparently he joined the BNP in September 2009, a significant time after ceasing to be a member of chambers.”
Christine Kings, chambers director at Outer Temple Chambers, highlighted the fact that the Bar Council’s equality code requires sets to have an equality and diversity policy in place, adding that St Philips could have been ostracised due to Grierson’s BNP membership.
“If I were a solicitor and concerned about equality and diversity I wouldn’t instruct a chambers that didn’t take action on this,” she said, adding: “I couldn’t stay in a chambers that had a member of the BNP as a member and expect that many colleagues would find it difficult. Many chambers have constitutions that will provide for suspension or dismissal of a member - it will depend on the terms of a constitution.”
A judge at Central London County Court recently ruled that the BNP’s constitution, which no longer restricts membership along racial lines, but requires members to uphold the “integrity of the indigenous British” was still likely to be discriminatory.
Maurice Cousins, a researcher at the campaign group Nothing British about the BNP, said: “If you look at the Front National in France, it has a long history of attracting doctors, lawyers and even a few millionaires. This is emblematic of how the BNP has become more respectable to some individuals in the professions - this is a new breed of candidate. It’s a bit of a stain on the legal profession.”