Lawyer sustains vitriolic objection

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IT WAS the election that nobody was talking about. At least, not until yesterday when it emerged that this year's contest for the Law Society's presidency would not be the one-horse procession everyone had expected.

Once news of an eleventh-hour challenger reached the ears of the sitting vice-president, Robert Sayer, the invective flowed thick and fast. Mr Sayer, apparently furious that he was no longer a shoo-in to lead the country's 70,000 solicitors, branded his opponentDavid Keating, a Hartlepool solicitor, "a complete pillock" who "falls asleep in [Law Society] council meetings."

Mr Sayer told The Lawyer magazine that the Law Society needs an election "like it needs a hole in the head". He described Mr Keating's challenge as "sneaky, underhand and pointless". In another outpouring of vitriol he said: "He [Keating] comes to council meetings, falls a sleep and goes home again."

Mr Sayer also had some colourful language for the man backing Mr Keating, Martin Mears, winner of the first contested Law Society elections in 1994. "Every year," said Mr Sayer, "Mears comes up like a piece of dog turd on your shoe."

Mr Mears said yesterday: "There's a general opinion in council - anyone who has seen Robert Sayer in action - that he's not the best man to represent the Law Society in public or deal with ministers."

Mr Keating said: "I am standing because of the feeling within some of the council and in the profession that Bob's not the right person for the job. I don't go to sleep in council meetings, although I may close my eyes when it gets tedious."