A barrister has resigned from high-profile London set Doughty Street Chambers after being accused of running a controversial Twitter account that harassed activists campaigning against antisemitism in the Labour Party.
Daniel Bennett – a solicitor turned barrister who specialises in personal injury – admitted breaching the chambers’ code of conduct, according to fellow Doughty Street barrister Adam Wagner, one of those who was targeted by the Twitter account @arrytuttle.
Doughty Street chief executive Mark Dembovsky confirmed that Mr Bennett, who joined the set in 2009, has resigned.
Known as Harry Tuttle, the name of a character played by Robert De Niro in the film Brazil, the now-deleted account was characterised by aggressive support for Jeremy Corbyn and attacks on Jewish people questioning antisemitism in Labour.
In his Twitter biography, @arrytuttle described himself as “The wrong kind of Jew, apparently”, and referenced being Jewish himself. He often suggested that Jewish people defending Mr Corbyn and Labour were themselves the victims of antisemitism.
Last month, another Twitter account, @TwelveScouts, connected it to Mr Bennett. It described ‘Harry’ as “a big fan of Corbyn & has established himself as the Commander of the Praetorian As-A-Jews protecting Emperor Jeremy & the Labour empire from accusations of antisemitism. He constantly berates Jews who dare express concern”.
In a Twitter thread today, Mr Wagner – who has been forthright on Twitter in questioning Labour’s approach to antisemitism – explained that the @arrytuttle account had around 4,500 followers.
“For about the past year it waged a campaign of anonymous abuse and harassment against me and others involved in the Labour antisemitism issue.”
In one tweet, @arrytuttle described Mr Wagner as a “lying propagandist who brings shame on our entire community”.
Mr Wagner continued: “I was shocked to find out a month ago that Daniel Bennett was connected to @arrytuttle, because he is a fellow barrister and a member of my chambers – and Jewish. I don’t know him personally. I had nothing to do with his identity being exposed.”
After the revelation by @TwelveScouts, “he told me (by email) as well as the Jewish Chronicle that ‘Many people run that account and I have not been involved in it for years’”.
Mr Bennett then set up a personal Twitter account and tweeted last month: “I have spoken today to @DXWQC [David Wolfson QC of One Essex Court] with whom I was at school and emailed @AdamWagner1 with whom I work.
“I wish to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused to them by the account @arrytuttle and confirm that I do not support or endorse any attacks on them.”
Mr Wagner tweeted: “He later told me that he was part of a group which set up the account, that he continued to access it to look at the feed and the mentions but tweeted rarely. He saw most of the tweets about me and did nothing as he thought, at the time, I ‘deserved’ them…
“I and others submitted a complaint to my chambers about Mr Bennett’s conduct. Shortly after receiving it he sent me a fulsome apology, saying every tweet was ‘completely unacceptable’. He admitted a breach of Doughty Street’s Code of Conduct and resigned…
“I take no issue with people disagreeing with me politically or legally but this is something different: personal/professional abuse and harassment from an anonymous account which held itself as being run by a barrister.
“On a personal level this has been an extremely distressing experience. I get a lot of this kind of abuse from anonymous accounts but to find out this was happening in my workplace is something else.”
Simon Myerson QC of St Pauls Chambers in Leeds, another of those targeted by the account, tweeted today: “Bennett encouraged others to complain to my regulator about me. I am still dealing with that issue. When it is resolved I will have something to say.
“I have had an apology & an undertaking never to use social media again. I understand there may be some personal issues which provide a partial explanation. But the conduct is absolutely unacceptable and resignation was the only honourable option.
“I did not have quite the level of abuse Adam endured, and, of course, it was not from a member of my chambers. Had that happened to me I would have been equally distressed and betrayed.”