WA Bar president Mark Cuerden backs down from defence of Julian Burnside

The president of the WA Bar Association has walked back his defence of Julian Burnside QC following a backlash over the association’s fight with Liberal senator Sarah Henderson.

Mark Cuerden SC on Wednesday wrote to senior legal figure and the national chairman of the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council, Mark Leibler, stopping short of an outright apology but conceding he and the Bar Council had not understood the “anti-Semitic” nature of Mr Burnside’s tweet that originally raised the senator’s ire.

“Having reflected and having gained a better understanding of the impact the use of such language may have, I wish to make it completely clear that the WA Bar cannot, does not, and will not support the use of anti-Semitic language,” Mr Cuerden wrote in his letter to Mr Leibler.

The surprise war of words between Mr Cuerden and Senator Henderson has been the talk of Perth legal circles since the correspondence was made public in recent days.

Senator Henderson had called for Mr Burnside to be stripped of his QC status and Order of Australia after the prominent human rights lawyer sent a tweet equating Israel’s treatment of Palestine to Nazi Germany’s persecution of the Jews. Mr Burnside has since deleted the tweet and apologised.

Read the article by Paul Garvey in The Australian.