Laurence Fox’s plan to reduce knife crime if elected mayor of London has been branded “idiocy” by a legal expert.
The Lewis actor, who earlier this year announced his candidacy in May's election, said he would bring in five-year jail sentences for anyone caught with a knife on the streets.
But the Secret Barrister - an anonymous lawyer who has written extensively about systemic problems in the justice system - has slammed Fox’s strategy.
The lawyer tweeted on Tuesday: “Mayors don’t have the power to set minimum sentences.
“Parliament has the power to set minimum sentences."
The Secret Barrister shared one of Fox’s posts which showed a video of the mayor candidate speaking to people on the streets in Sutton about knife crime.
Fox wrote: “People want see an end to Khan's crime capital.
"As your mayor, anyone caught carrying a knife will be given 5 years in prison or have to spend 5 years making their community a better place. It’s your London. Reclaim it.”
Mayors don’t have the power to set minimum sentences.
Parliament has the power to set minimum sentences.
And speaking as someone who has actually met criminals, a minimum sentence of “FIVE YEARS IN PRISON or a community order” is unlikely to be the deterrent you think it is. https://t.co/2QrypqioYU
— The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret) April 19, 2021
But the Secret Barrister said that what Fox was proposing would not be effective in combating knife crime.
The unknown writer said: “Speaking as someone who has actually met criminals, a minimum sentence of 'FIVE YEARS IN PRISON or a community order' is unlikely to be the deterrent you think it is.”
The Secret Barrister added: “I appreciate the country has probably had enough of barristers bashing Foxes, but this man’s idiocy needs knocking on the head. *FETCHES KIMONO*”
It comes as knife crime in London soared to record-high levels over the last few years.
Incumbent mayor Sadiq Khan has been severely criticised for his track record of combating the problem during his time in City Hall, leading to knife crime becoming one of the key talking points in this election.
Watch: Laurence Fox on COVID jabs, lifting lockdown and 'woke' Sadiq Khan
Andy Cook, the outgoing chief constable of Merseyside Police, recently told the Guardian that cutting poverty and inequality is the best path to reducing crime, including knife crime.
Asked what he would do if he were given £5bn to cut crime, Cooke said he would prioritise reducing inequality and deprivation by putting £4bn into tackling poverty compared to £1bn into law enforcement.
He said also said that simply trying to scare people into not offending does not work, citing the US approach that has led to “ridiculous prison sentences as deterrence, and all they end up doing is building more prisons, and you don’t see reduction in firearms crime or a reduction in murders over there”.
“Why do people get involved in crime and serious crime? It’s because the opportunities to make money elsewhere aren’t there for them. And never more so than in our inner cities and in our more difficult to police areas,” he added.
Fox, who has sparked fierce criticism over his views in the past, made a late entry to the mayoral race as head of the Reclaim Party.
His campaign calls for an immediate end to lockdown and pledges to “offer a voice to those who are being dominated into silence” and combat “extreme political correctness”.
Fox is running against Labour mayor Khan and Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey - the two main candidates in the race to City Hall.
Khan is focussing his campaign on recovery from COVID, protecting jobs and opposing austerity. He is also launching a review into the legalisation of cannabis.
Meanwhile, Bailey is pledging to tackle crime, improve the transport network and making home ownership in the capital more accessible.
Other candidates include Valerie Brown, running under the banner “Burning Pink” who plans to abolish the role if elected.
Jeremy Corbyn’s brother Piers, who questions the existence of COVID and climate change, is running for the Let London Live Party.
Luisa Porritt is running for the Liberal Democrats and Sian Berry is running for the Green Party.
The election will also see the return of “intergalactic space warrior” Count Binface, formerly known as Lord Buckethead, as a political candidate.
Watch: Tory London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey justifies manifesto plans