The Lord Chancellor, Robert Buckland QC, has moved to speak up for Scotland’s judges after sources in government appeared to imply they were politically biased.
This morning, the Scottish Court of Session ruled that this week’s prorogation of Parliament by Prime Minister Boris Johnson is unlawful. An appeal begins in the Supreme Court on Tuesday.
The Sun’s political editor Tom Newton Dunn quoted Downing Street sources as saying, “We note that last week the High Court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful. The legal activists choose the Scottish courts for a reason”.
Sources in No10 now hitting back at the Scottish judges, suggesting they are politically biased: "We note that last week the High Court in London did not rule that prorogation was unlawful. The legal activists choose the Scottish courts for a reason".
— Tom Newton Dunn (@tnewtondunn) September 11, 2019
On Twitter, many senior legal figures, including former Chancellor Lord Falconer, urged Buckland to either speak up for the judges or resign his Cabinet position. He duly did so, Tweeting that he had “total confidence in their independence in every case.”
— Dinah Rose QC (@DinahRoseQC) September 11, 2019
Lord Chancellor should put a stop to this nonsense immediately. Upholding the rule of law means ensuring government does not attack the judges for decisions the government doesn’t alike. Appeal if you don’t like it, don’t undermine the judges as if they were politicians. https://t.co/g3kxX93bC8
— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) September 11, 2019
Our judges are renowned around the world for their excellence and impartiality and I have total confidence in their independence in every case.
— Robert Buckland QC MP (@RobertBuckland) September 11, 2019
— David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) September 11, 2019
Buckland’s position in Cabinet has come under increasing scrutiny as the potential legality of the Prime Minister’s future actions has come into question. On various occasions, government figures have speculated that he might refuse to send a letter to the EU seeking to delay Brexit, in defiance of the bill passed into law this week by Parliament. In a situation where a Prime Minister was intent on ignoring the rule of law, the Lord Chancellor’s position would theoretically become untenable.
Former Lord Chancellor Liz Truss came under fire in 2016 for her slow reaction to come to the defence of judges after a Daily Mail front page dubbed them ‘Enemies of the People’, The headline came after the UK Government was defeated in the landmark Brexit High Court challenge over whether Article 50 could lawfully be triggered without a vote by Parliament.
I know Robert. He is a good man and I'm sure he is mindful of his oath and his responsibilities as a QC. Resigning is a card you can only play once. https://t.co/Z4nTQMSBKs
— Jo Maugham QC (@JolyonMaugham) September 11, 2019