Law Society candidates `tried to spy on opponents'

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The Law Society was forced into a damage limitation exercise yesterday after the leaking of minutes showing that the campaign team for "establishment" candidates in the next month's presidential election had discussed hiring inquiry agents to spy on their opponents and the use of negative campaigning.

The document, written in February following a meeting of the campaign team to elect current vice-president Phillip Sycamore, was leaked to his opponent Martin Mears, who served as president in 1985-6 and hopes to make an unprecendented comeback this year. The note revealed that the Sycamore campaign team chairman, Simon Baker, had suggested that inquiry agents be engaged to gather information on Mr Mears and his then running mates, David Keating and Robert Sayer, who has since transferred to the Sycamore slate. Patricia Wynn Davies