Man of action

The Lord Chancellor is used to seeing his name in the press. Recently, with all the right wing indignation over his divorce reforms, he has seen it coupled with talk of back-tracking and revolt.

But it was a story in the Daily Telegraph last week which finally shook him out of his reserve to put a halt to a story. The Telegraph claimed the Lord Chancellor was to "take the unprecedented step of reminding judges that the courts are not to overstep their powers by using judicial review to challenge ministerial decisions".

The trouble is it referred to a speech Lord Mackay was to give that night at the Guildhall. His press office put out a letter saying he was not due to speak at the Guildhall that evening. When he did speak there the day before, he did not mention controlling the judiciary.

Lord Mackay's relationship with the judiciary is often speculated about. It is a delicate and secretive association. When the speculation becomes louder and is voiced in national newspapers under strange circumstances, he moves fast.