Lord Phillips has his independence say

Have the judges had enough of the Government? Well, there was certainly some excellent straight-talking by the Lord Chief Justice yesterday (12 September).

At the Commonwealth Law Conference in Nairobi this week Lord Phillips fired a warning shot at Jack Straw. And the message? Keep the politicians out of the judicial appointments process (see story).

Phillips’ move is well timed. The Ministry of Justice green paper earlier this year made the suggestion that the politicos should “consider going further than the present arrangement, including conceivably a role for Parliament itself”.

Phillips’ response was stinging. “I am only aware of one Commonwealth country where Parliament is involved in judicial appointments,” he noted, “and that is Mozambique.”

Actually, there’s plenty more in the speech, including some elegant digs at David Blunkett, Charles Clarke and the Daily Mail. But his conclusion was Olympian.

“A judge should value independence above gold,” Phillips said, “not for his or her own benefit, but because it is of the essence of the rule of law.” Hear, hear.