"As for Ch-"
The 36 Group, a barristers' chambers in London, has denied that it suggested to its members that they should not criticise China in case it impacted lucrative work in the region.
A source said an email was sent to everyone in chambers at The 36 Group which "suggested" that members "should not come out in support of Essex Court Chambers or say anything that is critical of China's human rights record". RollOnFriday has not seen the email.
Essex Court Chambers has suffered an exodus of barristers since China imposed sanctions on the set because of an opinion produced by four of its members which concluded that there was "a very credible case" that "crimes against humanity" were being committed against the Uyghur population in China's Xinjiang region, including "enslavement, torture, rape, enforced sterilisation and persecution, and the crime of genocide".
Essex Court attempted to limit the damage by distancing itself from the work, and last week a mole claimed the chilling effect had reached The 36 Group as well. "All members of chambers are self-employed, and never before have barristers been told by their chambers to not criticise one country", said the source. They said that many barristers at 36 Group specialised in human rights law, yet now "presumably chambers would not want its members to carry out any human rights legal work which criticises China".
"This strikes at the heart of the independence of counsel", said the source, and "is precisely the consequence China wanted from their sanctions. To silence the English Bar".
The anonymous source did not successfully attach a copy of the "controversial" 36 Group email in their correspondence with RollOnFriday (wherever you are, please try again, thank you please), and the chambers rejected their interpretation of its contents.
In a statement, The 36 Group said the source's description of the email "mischaracterises its content".
"We have never sought and will never seek to silence our members, who, as self-employed barristers, regularly express their personal views on a wide variety of matters, and act professionally and fearlessly on instructions for a diverse range of clients and across multiple specialist areas, as of course do other sets of chambers", it said.
If you've been silenced, write in quietly.
Note: RollOnFriday now has the email. Tune in next Friday.