Lord Bingham defends judges secrecy

The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Bingham of Cornhill has defended the secret soundings system for appointing judges and claims it could withstand scrutiny by an independent watchdog.

In what could be construed as a side swipe against the Law Society which has boycotted the secret soundings, Lord Bingham said a system which delivers such a high quality product “cannot be nearly as defective as its critics suggest”.

The Law Society has dismissed the secret soundings system as an “old boys network” which discriminates against solicitors and refused to participate in it further.

But Lord Bingham hit back saying: “You can blacken anything by the label you give it and to label anything as secret makes it sound sinister,” he said. He added: “Nobody to my mind has made a convincing case either that the wrong people are being appointed as judges or that there are people who should be judges who are not being appointed.”

He said he would be “perfectly happy” if an independent person were appointed to monitor the appropriateness of the selection process as it goes along.

“The system would comfortably withstand independent scrutiny, ” he said.