Lawyers slam Truss for ‘mealy-mouthed’ defence of judges

Lawyers have condemned Justice Secretary Liz Truss’s comments following the attack on the judiciary by the Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph and Daily Express last week.

The Daily Mail dubbed the three High Court judges who ruled that Parliament must vote to trigger Article 50 ‘Enemies of the People’, sparking outrage from lawyers, politicians and others.

Shadow Chancellor Richard Burgon said: “Judges in the High Court are there to interpret the law regardless of their personal views and that it what they have done.”

“There is a constitutional process which must be followed. Some of the headlines in today’s newspapers personally attacking the judges who heard this case are unacceptable.”

Burgon called for Truss to condemn the newspaper headlines, saying: “It is the Lord Chancellor’s job to uphold the independence of British judges.”

However, over the course of Friday and Saturday morning, Truss remained silent, leading for further calls for her to speak out, including statements from the Bar Council and even the son of Lord Bingham.

Eventually, Truss made a statement which backed the independence of the UK’s judiciary but did not condemn the media attacks on senior judges.

She said: “The independence of the judiciary is the foundation upon which our rule of law is built and our judiciary is rightly respected the world over for its independence and impartiality.

“In relation to the case heard in the High Court the Government has made it clear it will appeal to the Supreme Court. Legal process must be followed.”

The statement brought ire from lawyers.

Chairman of the Bar Chantal-Aimée Doerries QC told The Observer: “We would wish her to go further. The resolution passed by the Bar Council called upon her to condemn the attacks on the judiciary and it is that we are still looking for. It is that which is so potentially damaging to the justice system in this country. As Lord Chancellor, it falls within her role to uphold the rule of law.”