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Mr Justice Eady, the country’s most senior libel judge, has been replaced as the head of the Queen’s Bench jury and non-jury lists by Mr Justice Tugendhat.
The Lawyer first reported in May that Eady J’s future in the role was in doubt after it was revealed that the Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger had invited Tugendhat to sit on a committee examining the issues around press injuctions (The Lawyer 3 May http://www.thelawyer.com/media-judges-in-the-spotlight-as-eady-j’s-future-is-thrown-into-doubt/1004296.article).
Eady J has been the source of much controversy in the national press in recent years. In particular he came in for criticism from the Daily Maileditor Paul Dacre who accused thejudge of introducing privacy laws “by the back door”.
Speaking in 2008 to the Society of Editors Dacre said: “The freedom of the press is far too important to be left to the somewhat desiccated values of a single judge, who clearly has an animus against the popular press and the right of people to freedom of expression.”
Eady J refrained from responding publicly until December 2009, when he spoke at the Justice conference.
“It’s become fashionable to label judges not as independent, but rather as unaccountable and as hostile to freedom of speech,” he said.
Tugendhat had been widely tipped to succeed him in the position. The judge was praised in the press when he lifted an injunction preventing allegations about John Terry’s private life from being published.
The changes will come into effect on 1 October with Tugendhat appointed for a three year term.