A New Hero of This Blog

In the past, I've noted, for what it is worth, various heroes of this blog. So, for instance, you'll find in the archive three posts on the 'blade runner', Oscar Pistorius, who runs on carbon-fibre blades and is good enough as an Olympian to make it in the full-bodied league. He has evidently blazed a trail, since I saw someone in Chelsea the other week grabbing an orange juice from a shop after running, and resisted the temptation to ask him about his artificial legs. After all, interrupting joggers isn't always that good an idea, even in cooldown.

I've also managed to link Peng Shuilin, who (last year at least) was prevailing over the lack of an entire lower body.

Well, I have a new hero of the blog today to add to their number. Yvonne Hossack is a Solicitor. In Britain, Solicitors are often treated as a junior or sleazier branch of the legal profession, which is ridiculous. The reason, I think, is threefold. Barristers (even non-practising ones such as myself) tend to cling to a somewhat ephemeral 'elite' status and propagate the myth that the often vastly more competent paperwork-based branch of the profession isn't any good. The public tend to meet solicitors and to fulminate against them as attorneys who charge by the quarter hour; and, simply because there are more of them, and they are dealing with more complicated financial stuff in the shade, there tend to be more scandals of dishonesty with solicitors as a group than barristers. Solicitors also work for a living as employees, with all the moral complications and everyday compromises that implies.

However, Yvonne Hossack has shown herself to represent the best of that profession, as have the Law Society panel which sat in judgement on her behind the stone lions of Chancery Lane the other day.

She has nearly bankrupted herself, and lost a marriage, and gave up about two million in earnings, and lost her home, standing up to jumped-up Hitlers in local government. She did it by representing vulnerable old people in care homes, who were threatened in three local authorities by shut-downs and closures of their residences.

Successive administrations, political parties, and civil servants seem to have colluded with their own lawyers to wreck the lives and health of the old. When Yvonne, motivated by compassion and a sense of justice, and her Kettering Christianity, took them on they tried to ruin her with trumped-up charges. The harassment started after she brought Tony Blair face to face with one of the elderly victims of his policies in Downing Street--the very next day after, in fact.

She hung on. They fought her at every step and accused her of 'campaigning with the law' rather than being a lawyer, by which they meant being some sort of moral prostitute, which she didn't choose to be. She beat them.

Civil society depends on women and men like this; not state employees, or social workers, or people who agree with majority fashions, but people like Yvonne and the Southall Black Sisters, and the food bank trusts, who just see a wrong and want to right it, and see badness and want to end it. Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary who ought to be Prime Minister, has done himself no harm by closely associating himself with her, but ultimately, the victory is hers.

Well done.


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