UK: Human rights champion Hermer is attorney general

The UK Law Soc Gazette

KC who was among a group of high-profile Jewish lawyers who called for Israel to be guided by the law in its response to the Hamas attack has been appointed attorney general in the new Labour government.

Richard Hermer KC, a barrister at Matrix Chambers and deputy High Court judge, has been given a peerage in order to become attorney general, the chief legal adviser to the Crown.

Hermer, who was born and raised in Wales, studied politics and modern history at the University of Manchester before being called to the bar in 1993. After pupillage in Wales, he moved to London, where his practice predominately focused on human rights and international law. He has been involved in claims emanating from the Iraq conflict and Guantanamo Bay.

Hermer was one of a group of leading Jewish lawyers who wrote an open letter in the Financial Times last October calling for Israel to be guided by the law in its response to the Hamas attack.

Several lawyers took to social media platform X to praise his appointment. Gerard McDermott KC said: ‘I have worked closely with Richard Hermer KC over the last four years. He is the KC I admire the most. This shows a huge commitment to the rule of law.’

Matrix colleague Matthew Ryder KC described Hermer as a ‘superb lawyer who will bring experience, judgement and legal acumen to the role’. Ryder said Hermer’s appointment was a ‘great start for lawyers and the rule of law from the new prime minister’.

Lord Wolfson (David Wolfson), who served as a justice minister in the Johnson government, said he had known Hermer for many years and described him as a ‘first-class lawyer, respected by his colleagues and as AG will promote and uphold the rule of law’.

Law Society president Nick Emmerson said: ‘The new attorney general has extensive international and domestic legal experience and has been involved in the legal task force addressing international crimes committed by Russia in Ukraine. This substantial experience will be exceptionally valuable for the role of attorney general.

‘It’s crucial to acknowledge that transforming the justice system is a long-term project, requiring a collaborative effort. We look forward to working with Richard Hermer KC over the coming parliament and sharing the insight and experience of our members to rebuild our justice system, harness the economic power of legal services and ensure access to justice for all.’

Bar chair Sam Townend KC said the appointment ‘sends a strong message of the government’s intention to observe domestic law obligations and commitment to the international rules-based order’.