Wanted:a judge to cater for all tastes

Following Lord Taylor's announcement he will be standing down, Lord Mackay has consulted widely over who should be the next Lord Chief Justice. The Lawyer has made its own enquiries on the views of “the great and the good”.

Geoffrey Bindman, senior partner of civil liberties firm Bindman & Partners, wants the new Lord Chief Justice to follow in Taylor's footsteps. He said the successor should show the same openness, but should publicly call for the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. He also praised Taylor for defending the judiciary from political interference.

Judge Barrington Black, who sits at Harrow Crown Court, said he was too diplomatic to disclose nominations. But he added: “A new Lord Chief Justice will have to balance on his trident a populist Home Secretary supported by civil servants who slide out of academia, do damage, then slide back again, barmy bishops, and pressure groups who see little evil in mankind.”

Barbara Hewson, chair of the Association of Women Barristers, called on the new Lord Chief Justice to recognise that the judiciary has a public image problem. “When the public sees the latest figures for the conviction of rape, which are down from 24 per cent to 8 per cent in the last nine years, they are bound to question what our judges are doing. Senior judges should be able to justify the six-figure salaries they earn.”

Public law expert Michael Beloff QC would like to see the successor continue Taylor's tradition of openness. “Lord Justice Rose and Kennedy would both bring distinction. Lord Woolf would be another obvious candidate. It would be a pity if Master of the Rolls Sir Thomas Bingham moved from civil justice.”

Louise Christian, a partner at the civil liberties firm Christian Fisher, would also like to see Woolf take the post. “His liberal attitude appeals to me. It all depends on whether the Government wants to appoint someone who is independent or not, but I would like to see someone who continues to stand up to the Government.”

Tony Holland, former Law Society president, nominated Bingham. “We need to regain public confidence in the judiciary. Politicians are getting involved because they say the judiciary is out of touch. I think Bingham can steer the judiciary along the right course.”

Roger Smith, director of the Legal Action Group, pointed to someone in favour of broader rights of audience. He added: “We need a strong supporter of an independent judiciary in relation to judicial review and sentencing. “

David Penry-Davey QC, chair of the Bar Council, said the new Lord Chief Justice must continue to ensure the judiciary acts as the citizens' safeguard against abuses of power by the State: “Taylor managed to maintain the independence of the judiciary in the face of the ever-increasing power of the executive.”