SCOTLAND’S top lawyers are demanding that Boris Johnson and Priti Patel “stop the denigration of the legal profession” for fear that it could lead to violence.

In an astonishing and scathing open letter to the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, the Faculty of Advocates, which represents the Scottish Bar, warns that attacks on the character of legal professionals poses a threat to democracy.

They condemn claims from Tory chiefs that “lefty lawyers” are “hamstringing” the justice system.

It comes after Johnson during his keynote Tory party conference speech boasted that his government was “stopping the whole criminal justice system from being hamstrung by what the home secretary would doubtless – and rightly – call the lefty human rights lawyers, and other do-gooders”.

In August, the Home Office posted a video on social media that criticised “activist lawyers” for trying to stop the UK Government deporting people with no right to remain in the UK.

In response to the Prime Minister’s speech, and his endorsement of the Home Office’s claims, the dean of the Scottish Faculty of Advocates has demanded a change in tone.

Roddy Dunlop QC, in a letter approved by office bearers of the faculty, writes: “I deprecate the recent pronouncements – from the Home Office, then from the Home Secretary, and latterly from the Prime Minister himself – to the effect that there is a problem with ‘lefty lawyers’ or ‘activist ‘lawyers’ who are ‘hamstringing’ the justice system.

“Whether the topic is immigration, or crime, or the constitution, lawyers that act against the state are not being ‘lefty’, nor ‘activist’: they are doing their professional duty. It is simply unconscionable for Her Majesty’s Government to decry in this way the actions of professionals who … are not at liberty to do otherwise.”

READ MORE: Home Office tweet attacking 'activist lawyers' sparks backlash

Dunlop goes on to warn of the potentially disastrous consequences of the Prime Minister’s public comments.

He continues: “In this country (and the same cannot be said of all countries), instances of violence against lawyers are, fortunately, rare. However, in a climate of increasing populism, this sort of rhetoric is not only facile and offensive: it is potentially harmful.

“With great power comes great responsibility, and I have to say – with great respect – that I simply cannot fathom why is thought in any way appropriate to attempt to vilify, in public, those that are simply doing their job, in accordance with the rule of law.

“I would, accordingly, and again with great respect, ask each of you to eschew such unhelpful language, and to recognise that challenges to the executive are a necessary part of our democracy. Anything less would be a confession that we no longer live in a democracy.”

The comments were backed by Scottish Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf.

He tweeted: "Incredibly powerful letter from @RoddyQC Dean of @FacultyScot  to Home Sect & PM deprecating their recent pronouncements denigrating legal profession, describing PM's language 'as not only facile & offensive, it is potentially harmful'. Radio silence from Scot Tories on this."

SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC said she is "proud" to see Dunlop "challenging the Home Secretary's disgraceful denigration of lawyers doing their job".