Blackstone silk to lead appeal over closure of Brent libraries

Blackstone Chambers’ Dinah Rose QC has been instructed to launch an appeal after the High Court dismissed a judicial review application relating to the closure of six libraries in North London.

Dinah Rose QC
Dinah Rose QC

Matrix Chambers’ Helen Mountfield QC failed to convince the High Court to allow a judicial review into the decision to close six libraries in North London after a series of related claims were dismissed.

As Mountfield, who was instructed by Bindmans solicitor John Halford, is engaged on other maters, Halford has turned to Rose for the appeal proceedings.

Acting on behalf of a group of campaigners that included playwright Alan Bennett and musician Nick Cave, Mountfield asked Mr Justice Ousley for permission to launch judicial review proceedings regarding the London Borough of Brent’s decision to close six of its 12 libraries.

The authority decided earlier this year that libraries in Kensal Rise, Barham Park, Tokyington, Preston, Cricklewood and Neasden would all be shut down.

Ousley J heard the judicial review application and substantive applications at the same time. Among the claims being made was the allegation that the council unlawfully failed to consult the public on the closures.

In his judgment, Ousley J said the claimants raised “the question of whether the council gave consultees sufficient reasons for and information about the proposals to permit of intelligent consideration and response”.

He added: “If it did not, the consultation process would be legally flawed. In my judgement, it was not flawed.

“There was a very extensive consultation programme over three months using a variety of well–publicised forms of communication with the public at large, users and specific groups.”

Ousley J did not agree with any of the claims being made and therefore dismissed the judicial review application.

The case attracted a lot of support from well-known names, with bands including Depeche Mode, the Pet Shop Boys and Goldfrapp contributing £30,000 towards the legal costs.

The London Borough of Brent was represented by 11 KBW’s Elisabeth Laing QC, who was directly instructed.