Luke McIlveen's article concerning Ian Barker QC's role as Patrick Power's counsel in the Local Court ("The silk who wants us to believe we owe child porn lawyer freedom", Daily Telegraph, 26 April) utterly fails to recognise the role of defence counsel in criminal proceedings, and the nature of our criminal justice system. A crucial element of the right to a fair trial, safeguarded by international instruments such as the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is the right of an accused to competent counsel to act in his or her best interests.
Barristers owe a duty to their client to put the strongest possible arguments in their defence and counsel on both sides - prosecution and defence - are obliged to provide all relevant information concerning the defendant's background and character to ensure that the sentencing court is fully informed.
It is entirely misleading to question Ian Barker QC's defence of Patrick Power, or indeed his role in earlier criminal proceedings. Ian Barker is a senior counsel of the highest ability and integrity acting in his client's interests. Everything he said to the magistrate was based upon the many testimonials tendered in evidence without dispute by the prosecution.
Surely our community expects both the prosecutor and the defence to objectively put the best case forward for their clients?
Michael Slattery QC
New South Wales Bar Association