Lawyers Secular Society
The Lawyers' Secular Society (LSS) is a UK-based pressure group that was re-launched in January 2013 by telecoms lawyer Charlie Klendjian, who served as Secretary until August 2015.
Involvement in planned Mohammed cartoon exhibition
Klendjian's resignation came after he had agreed to speak in his LSS capacity at a proposed exhibition of cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, which had been scheduled to take place in London in September 2015. The event was principally being organised by the group Sharia Watch, led by Klendjian's close associate Anne Marie Waters.
Klendjian initially defended the decision to speak at this event on a platform alongside Waters (a former UKIP candidate) and other far-right figures including Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders and Paul Weston of Liberty GB, downplaying their well-known racism.
Charlie Klendjian resigns
In February, Spinwatch had contacted several members of the LSS to outline our concerns about Klendjian’s views. Those who replied included prominent lawyer David Wolfe QC of Matrix Chambers and Peter Fisher MBE, who were reluctant to unequivocally condemn or support Klendjian. But his planned participation in the Mohammed cartoon event appears to have provoked opposition from at least some within the LSS.
Klendjian pulled out of speaking at the event on 2 August 2015, citing "personal reasons" but claimed that the LSS remained supportive of the event and would sent a replacement speaker. No replacement speaker emerged and by mid August the proposed event was cancelled.
It emerged that he had unilaterally signed the LSS up as a supporter of the planned exhibition, prompting some LSS members to complain, which brought about a vote on the issue. According to a leaked copy of the ‘no’ case, those in opposition stated their opposition to their secretary ‘sharing a platform with bigots’. Although it is not known how many people voted, the ‘yes’ case reportedly won. But at least two people then resigned and though the organisation has been reported to have 100 members, from a grand total of eleven listed members on 22 July 2015, the number had dwindled to just five by late August.
On Wednesday 19 August 2015 Klendjian announced he was resigning as LSS secretary, citing 'security fears'.
As of December 2015, the group's website has been inactive since August 2015, when Klendjian left. Since Klendjian's departure, the group has also changed its twitter profile picture in an apparent attempt to distance itself from its its past links to anti-Muslim activism. There is no evidence it retains links to Anne Marie Waters.
- Charlie Klendjian - leading activist and secretary, resigned 19 August 2015
Listed as members on August 2015
When re-launched in early 2013, it was reported that there were 100 members of the LSS. However, by 24 August 2015, after the fall-out from the Mohammed cartoon affair, just five people were listed on the site:
- Peter Bowen-Walker, biologist, part-time lecturer and law student
- Peter Fisher MBE, a retired civil servant who worked in the UK Ministry of Justice and its predecessors between 1973-2011. His last role was advising the Judge Advocate General in connection with the military justice system, during its major overhaul.
- "Mark", a solicitor
- Richard Scorer, 'head of serious injury and abuse litigation at a leading law firm'
- Jay Marshall, law student and president of the law society at the University of West London
Formerly listed as members
The following were listed as members between December 2013 and at least 22 July 2015:
- David Wolfe QC, barrister at Matrix Chambers London
- David Grey
- Dr Ronan McCrea
- Helen Nicholls
- Sadikhur Rahman
- Andrew Henner
The following were briefly listed as members between approximately December 2014 and early 2015:
- The Lawyer, the Mohammed Cartoon Exhibition and the ‘Civil War’ that Wasn’t, Ceasefire Magazine, 7 September 2015.
- Tell MAMA, Lawyers' Secular Society needs to seriously rethink who it shares platform with, Byline, 14 August 2015.
- Charlie Klendjian, The LSS is right to share a platform with Geert Wilders and Paul Weston, Lawyers' Secular Society, 30 June 2015, accessed 23 August 2015
- Hilary Aked, [The Lawyer, the Mohammed Cartoon Exhibition and the ‘Civil War’ that Wasn’t https://ceasefiremagazine.co.uk/lawyer-mohammed-cartoon-exhibition-civil-war-wasnt/], Ceasefire Magazine, 7 September 2015.
- Charlie Klendjian cancels speaking engagement at Mohammed Exhibition, Lawyers' Secular Society, 2 August 2015, accessed 23 August 2015
- Charlie Klendjian leaves the LSS over security fears, Lawyers' Secular Society, 19 June 2015, accessed 23 August 2015
- James Bernes, Telecoms lawyer revives secular society, Global Legal Post, 8 January 2013
- Meet the LSS, n.d., accessed 24 August 2015
- Meet the LSS, Lawyers Secular Society, 22 July 2015 - accessed via the Web Archive on 24 August 2015
- Meet the LSS, Lawyers Secular Society, 20 December 2014 - accessed via the Web Archive on 24 August 2015