A British lawyer representing speedboat killer Jack Shepherd has received a death threat warning him, ‘Remember Jo Cox’.
The sick message sent to Richard Egan included references to stabbing and petrol bombs as well as the words ‘Heil Hitler’ next to a swastika.
It was condemned as ‘completely unacceptable’ by Justice Secretary David Gauke, while a former Lord Chief Justice described it as an attack on the rule of law.
Jack Shepherd, seen behind bars at a court in Georgia on Friday, is fighting extradition back to Britain
The letter, which is being investigated by police, told the lawyer he had 48 hours to announce he was ‘no longer supporting or providing legal aid’ to Shepherd before referencing the murdered Labour MP.
Mr Egan said he had received torrents of abusive letters in recent weeks but this particular one was ‘of a different order’.
He told The BBC: ‘It threatens my family. It suggests that I have been followed and that the writer knows where I live and where I work.
‘There is a specific threat to firebomb my firm, endangering the lives of my colleagues.’
Mr Egan said it was vital the public realised everyone accused of a crime by the state was entitled to legal representation.
His views were echoed by Lord Thomas, who said: ‘You simply can’t have a fair trial without a lawyer who is prepared to put the defendant’s case. What is essential is that we do nothing to undermine the position of such lawyers.’
Justice Secretary David Gauke has condemned the sick message sent to Jack Shepherd’s lawyer, Richard Egan (seen in London in 2014). His Georgian lawyer, Mariam Kublashvili, is on the right
Law Society president Christina Blacklaws said: ‘Ensuring the defendant is properly advised and represented is a vital component of a fair trial.
‘Often that advice will lead to a client pleading guilty; but if a client maintains their innocence, it is absolutely essential that a defence representative can challenge a case brought by the state.
‘Criminal justice is at the heart of a democratic society and solicitors ensure a fundamental part of the justice system is upheld.
‘While it may seem counter-intuitive, it is in the best interests of all concerned – particularly victims and their families – that defendants have proper legal representation. Without it a fair trial would be jeopardised and cases could collapse.’
Charlotte Brown and sister Katie in an undated photo
Shepherd has been remanded in custody in Georgia before a judge hears Britain’s request to extradite him.
In recent days, it emerged Shepherd had written a letter to his victim’s family in which he claims to reveal what really happened on the night of Charlotte Brown’s death.
Shepherd left the note with a close friend shortly before handing himself in to police in Georgia last week.
His Georgian lawyer, Mariam Kublashvili, claims that the letter ‘answers all the questions everyone has’.
Miss Brown’s father Graham said on Sunday: ‘I’ve heard nothing about any letter, but in any case the time to have answered what happened to Charlotte that night was at his trial – which he was absent from. I do not welcome or seek any contact from Shepherd.’
Shepherd, 31, claimed Miss Brown, 24, was driving the speedboat when it flipped on the River Thames in December 2015.
He fled to Georgia after being charged with manslaughter and was jailed for six years in his absence.
Mariam Kublashvili is seen on the left in court on January 25. Shepherd is pictured on the same day
Shepherd (seen in court) has written a note to his victim’s family, it recently emerged
Miss Brown’s mother Roz Wickens, 53, has urged Shepherd to ‘stop lying’ and ‘tell the truth about what happened’.
Shepherd fled Britain last March but, after a campaign by the Mail, he handed himself in.
The web designer is being held for three months at Gldani Number Eight maximum security prison in Tbilisi.
In 2012 guards were filmed beating inmates and carrying out sexual humiliation punishments with broom handles.
Shepherd is sharing a room with two other inmates and must use communal toilet and shower facilities.
He has started reading The Count of Monte Cristo – an Alexandre Dumas novel in which the main character breaks out of a prison.
Despite claiming in court he handed himself in ‘to draw to a close this horrible accident and the terrible consequences’, Shepherd is still not cooperating with the authorities.
He supplied a fake address in Tbilisi and police sources say they are still trying to find out where he was living.
Media at the court in Tbilisi Central Court when Shepherd appeared there on January 25
An undated photo of Shepherd’s speedboat on the Thames shortly after Ms Brown’s death