Queensland Premier Campbell Newman’s description of bikie lawyers as ‘hired guns’ has stirred the anger of the state’s law society.
Queensland solicitors have accused Premier Campbell Newman of sullying an entire profession by suggesting bikie lawyers are hired guns who belong to a “criminal gang machine”.
Civil libertarians and the legal profession have voiced concerns about new state anti-association laws, which make it illegal for three or more bikies to gather in public.
Bikies who disobey the laws face up to three years in jail, prompting Hannay Lawyers this week to advise its Gold Coast clients to avoid turning up to court if other bikies are there.
But Mr Newman slammed that advice and accused those defence lawyers of being disingenuous.
“These people are hired guns. They take money from people who sell drugs to our teenagers and young people,” he said.
“Yes, everybody’s got a right to be defended under the law but you’ve got to see it for what it is: they are part of the machine, part of the criminal gang machine, and they will see, say and do anything to defend their clients, and try and get them off and indeed progress … their dishonest case.”
Mr Newman described defence lawyers as people “paid by criminal gangs” when challenged on his assertion.
The Queensland Law Society, the state’s peak body for solicitors, called on Mr Newman to reconsider his comments, with president Ian Brown describing them as deeply concerning.
“It is entirely inappropriate to suggest that, as a profession, solicitors are, for want of a better term, hired guns,” he told AAP.
“Comments such as ‘lawyers or solicitors are hired guns’ and that ‘solicitors will say and do anything to defend their clients’, those kind of comments relate to the entirely of the legal profession – solicitors and barristers alike.”
Mr Brown said the premier’s comments undermined the legal assumption that someone was innocent until proven guilty, adding that this implied solicitors were breaching their fundamental duty to the court.
Peter Davis, the president of the Queensland Bar Association, also took a swipe at the premier, saying his comments were “misconceived, unfair and objectionable”.
“Defence lawyers play an important and integral role in the administration of justice … ensuring fairness and justice to those so accused,” he said in a statement.
“The machine of which lawyers are part is the justice system.”