Former attorney general lays into Conservative lawyers
Kevin, I am sure, is right but equally all the more reason to keep plugging on?
In a number of encounters with Dominic Grieve over some decades now I have found him always to be just as courteous and receptive to argument as Joshua. It is worth adding that I have generally found that to be the case with the most intelligent and erudite of lawyers and commentators.
I was first introduced to him by the equally courteous Edward (now Lord) Garnier KC when on behalf of the Law Society I had been seeking the personal views and the governmental line to be taken on the right to jury trial for either way cases when a Blair government had been all for abolishing it (Jack Straw being the instigator), only to find that both Edward and Dominic had been with us in resisting abolition ( a battle which essentially the Law Society and many other organisations “won”).
I persuaded Edward to be a part of a panel debating a Public Defender Service at the Society’s “festival” held at Disneyworld near Paris.
I also swallowed hard -post the Stephen Lawrence Inquiry- and agreed to debate with Dominic its recommendation for the abolition of the double jeopardy rule. That debate took place at a fringe meeting at around that time of the Conservative Party Conference in Bournemouth. Running the risk of having to confront such a formidable lawyer and debater should we prove to be at odds over the issue had me nervously studying the arguments assiduously all the way down on the train from Birmingham; but to my immense relief I found that he shared my and as I recall the Law Society’s deep reservations over those proposals. In truth the changes later introduced after serious parliamentary debate and amendments had been ones as I believe we might live with.
Since his removal as Attorney General by David Cameron and indeed his having been voted out by his constituents, he has to my certain knowledge continued to undertake much pro Bono work in support of human rights and rule of law issues. I for one was in no way surprised by that .
I humbly agree that Lord Mance’s lecture ought to be compulsory reading for all MPs but then so should be “The Secret Barrister” where the Bar Council paid for all of them to receive a free copy.
How very right Dominic is about the grave diminution in the role and status of the office of Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary since the 2005 Act. Now it has become nothing more than a stepping stone for whichever ambitious parliamentarian accepting the post in as short a term as might be on her/his way to some REALLY IMPORTANT department such as the Home Office, the Foreign Office, the Chancellorship of the Exchequer or whichever.
I absolutely agree with Dominic about the now party politically motivated practice of A-G’s references, especially by Suella Braverman, according to the media ranting and the perceived public reactions to particular sentences rather than from any proper consideration.
As to the then Johnsonian government’s petulant reaction to Miller1 and Miller2, it is difficult indeed to find anything polite to say about that. What suchlike as that is threatening to lead to is the removal of that very judicial independence where our government decries its very lack on the part of autocratic regimes abroad. And yet that desperately worrying contradiction sets us on that selfsame crimson path to despotism.
Finally, the very failure to tackle intellectually or honestly the consequences of opting out of or diluting our long standing commitment to the ECHR and disregarding our involvement in the Council of Europe speaks volumes as to a wanton disregard for the principles which underpin all that secures the democratic and constitutional integrity of our system.
I do wonder if most of the current crop of MPs would even know that Lord Mance exists…