Tag Archive | "Lord Falconer"

The Lord Chancellor


When appointing a Lord Chancellor what was once rare is now almost routine.

The Coalition government in 2010 appointed Chris Grayling to the post, which is also that of Secretary of State for Justice. He was the first non lawyer to be given the job since the middle ages. It showed.

In the reshuffle following the 2015 election Michael Gove got the job. He also is not legally qualified. He made a promising start, clearing up some of the mess left by Grayling, and promising reforms. He became one of the more sensational casualties of the post referendum chaos as he was cast into the political wilderness.

Now Liz Truss has got the job. Also not legally qualified, she is the first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role. 41 today, she has been MP for South West Norfolk since 2010. Rapid promotion saw her appointment as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State from 2012 to 2014, with responsibility for education and childcare. She became a member of the Cabinet as Secretary of State for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in 2014. On 14 July 2016 she was appointed Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor by new Prime Minister Theresa May.

According to George Monbiot in the ‘Guardian’, interviewers have said that she is “indissolubly wedded to a set of theories about how the world should be, that are impervious to argument, facts or experience. She was among the first ministers to put her own department on the block in the latest spending review, volunteering massive cuts.”

She set courts reform as one of her top priorities during the traditional swearing-in ceremony. She also stressed she was a great supporter of reform and modernisation through the courts and tribunals system. “That urgent task will be high on my agenda in the months ahead, as I know it is for senior members of the judiciary,” she added.

Her appointment has not met with a uniform welcome. As one disgruntled contributor to the ‘Gazette’ plaintively wrote “Why do the Tories persistently want to pee off the profession by making non lawyers Lord or Lady Chancellors. It is frankly insulting.” More officially, the Tory chair of the Commons justice select committee, Bob Neill, has become the latest senior political figure to question her credentials.

As reported in the ‘Gazette’, he said “My concern is this: while it’s not necessary for the lord chancellor to have a legal background, they have a specific role under the Constitutional Reform Act to represent the interests of the judiciary and to represent the judiciary, including its independence within government.

“It helps if the person in charge has been a lawyer or has been a senior member of the cabinet. I have a concern, with no disrespect to Liz, that it would be hard for someone without that history to step straight in and fulfil that role.”

Neill’s comments follow a claim by former shadow lord chancellor Lord Falconer that prime minister Theresa May broke the law in appointing Truss. Writing in the ‘Times’, Falconer said: “The lord chancellor has to be someone with the weight and stature to stand up to the prime minister or the home secretary when, for instance, they want to compromise on complying with the law in an attempt to placate the public. Or when the politicians are determined to blame the judges when their policies go wrong.”

Lord Faulks said last week that he resigned as Lords justice spokesman over fears that Truss would not have the necessary leverage to challenge the prime minister over crucial issues such as judicial independence.

Posted in Civil Law, Criminal JusticeComments (0)

National Audit Office asked to investigate cost of aborted criminal legal aid reforms


The shadow Justice Secretary, Lord Falconer, told Michael Gove just a week before the big climb down on criminal legal aid reforms: “This process has descended into chaos and is clearly set for failure. Labour, practitioners and experts warned from the start that this was a flawed policy but ministers pushed ahead regardless.”

Falconer has now asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate the Ministry of Justice’s decision to pursue a dual contracting model and the Legal Aid Agency’s handling of the procurement process for new contracts. His letter, to comptroller and auditor general Sir Amyas Morse, was published on legal commentator David Allen Green’s ‘Jack of Kent’ blog. He also copied the letter to Meg Hillier MP, chair of the House of Commons public accounts committee. Read the full story

Posted in Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)

Gove to challenge the “dangerous inequality at the heart of our system”


In a speech given today at the Legatum Institute, justice secretary Michael Gove said that there will be further court closures as he seeks to build a more efficient and streamlined justice system.

The government is reviewing the existing court estate and will shut those that are not running close to capacity. The government closed 142 courts in the last parliament. “It makes more sense to deliver a more efficient court estate than, for example, make further big changes to the legal aid system,’ he said. Read the full story

Posted in Civil Law, Criminal Justice, Legal AidComments (0)


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