Abbott accuses lawyers of ambulance chasing after Grenfell fire

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Jul 27, 2017
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Diane Abbott, the shadow home secretary, said ambulance chasing should not be tolerated

Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images

Victims of the Grenfell Tower fire feel intimidated by “ambulance chasing” lawyers, the shadow home secretary has told legal profession chiefs, it emerged yesterday.

Diane Abbott claimed that survivors of the disaster, in which at least 80 people died, are being hounded by lawyers bidding to act for them in potential legal claims. In an email sent to the Law Society and the Bar Council, which represent solicitors and barristers in England and Wales, Abbott said that “ambulance chasing is disgraceful and should not be tolerated in any circumstance”.

The shadow home secretary went on to say that “whilst at this stage it is not clear on which matters these individuals have been advised that they need legal representation, it is evident that legal representation will be required at some point and to this end, it is entirely for those affected by this tragedy to instruct the legal professional of their choice without being coerced into instructing firms who are clearly misleading people whilst they are extremely vulnerable”.

The Times revealed earlier this month that a London law firm had suspended two staff for distributing leaflets in the area around the Grenfell Tower in Kensington, west London. After the revelations, the two paralegals resigned from the firm, Leigh Day.

In her letter to legal profession leaders, which has been seen by the Press Association, Abbott referred to that incident. “We are aware that two paralegals have been suspended following such allegations and I had initially believed that this was the end of the matter,” she said. “However, complaints have persisted and I offered to send this letter in an attempt to ensure that those affected by this have support and a voice where their concerns are raised at the highest level.”

Joe Egan, the president of the Law Society, which represents solicitors, responded to Abbott’s call by pointing out that “there are strict rules governing how all legal professionals work”. He claimed that “under no circumstances would a legitimate solicitor make unsolicited approaches in person or by telephone. If anyone has concerns about the behaviour of a solicitor they should immediately report them to the regulator.”

The society said that the first point of contact for legal advice for victims of the disaster should be North Kensington Law Centre, which is adjacent to the tower.

The Bar Council did not comment on the email.

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