Solicitor suspended for sending Islamophobic Tweets

It is not only Boris Johnson that has been swept up in the issue of Islamophobia in recent weeks, as a solicitor has been suspended for 18 months by the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT).

Deborah Elizabeth Daniels, partner at West Yorkshire law firm, Bird and Daniels, made a vast number of tweets over a period of 14 months, many of which were considered offensive towards the religions of Islam, Catholicism and Judaism.

The SDT have commented by saying: “behaving in a way which lacked integrity in such a public, offensive and wholly unacceptable way, [she] caused reputational damage to the profession as well as causing offence to members of the public.

“It was unacceptable for there to be any perception amongst the wider public that such conduct on the part of a solicitor was regarded as anything but serious misconduct by the profession more generally.”

Shockingly, the tweets refer to Daniels’ desire to rid the world of the Islamic faith. Deborah Elizabeth Daniels tweets stated: “All women must carry staining pepper spray, learn self-defence and do everything necessary to rid the world of Islam.”

In other despicable claims, her public tweets exclaimed: “not phobic because that denotes an irrational fear – our wish to demolish Islam is perfectly rational.” In a similar extreme tweet she believed “the ring of steel hasn’t worked so well put the bloody lot in a work camp and educate them or get rid.”

The SDT has described Daniels tweets as: “offensive, wholly inappropriate and/or discriminatory.”

It also added: “The tribunal considered that whilst the individual tweets may have been drafted spontaneously in the heat of the moment and without reflection, there was a series of offending tweets which could not be described as spontaneous. The conduct was persistent and protracted.

“Ms Daniels had greater responsibilities to act with integrity to avoid causing harm to the profession.

“The seriousness of the misconduct was such that public confidence in the profession demanded no less than an immediate, fixed-term suspension.”

During the mitigation process, Ms Daniels attempted to justify her tweets by claiming: “they were not part of any premeditated campaign to achieve anything; they reflected the ‘curse’ of Twitter.”

According to the SDT, the tweets actually reflected a “persistent and protracted” stereotyping of and discrimination towards a variety of religious groups. Ms Daniels was also instructed to pay costs of £11,000.

Blatant ignorance and racism have no place in multicultural Britain. Whilst Boris Johnson and Ms Daniels have a right to voice their public opinion, we should be careful to ensure our language does not incite hatred or unfairly discriminate innocent sections of society.

Do you think personal comments made on social media should be held against a person if they act professionally and fairly in their job role? Was the suspension fair? Did the SDT go far enough?  

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