- The Daily Mail
Britain’s Lord Chancellor Liz Truss lent support to the independence of the UK’s judiciary but failed to deliver a condemnation of the attacks on the judges who dealt a blow to the government’s Brexit preparations.
Truss said in a statement on Saturday afternoon:
“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.”
Her statement followed Britain’s Bar Council – the body that represents barristers in England and Wales – which called for her to make a statement to bring about the end to the harsh criticism of the three judges.
The Bar Council said in a statement on its website on Saturday morning, Lord Chancellor Liz Truss should come forward to condemn the recent attacks on the three judges, which dubbed “enemies of the people” by one of Britain’s most divisive media outlets The Daily Mail, as well as being responsible for “the day democracy died” by The Daily Express.
The statement said: “The Bar Council of England and Wales condemns the serious and unjustified attacks on the judiciary arising out of the Article 50 litigation.
“It regrets the lack of public statement by the Lord Chancellor condemning these attacks and calls upon the Lord Chancellor to do so as a matter of urgency. A strong independent judiciary is essential to a functioning democracy and to upholding the rule of law.”
The statement fell in line with UK politicians calling for an end to the attacks on the three judges, including Lord Chief Justice John Thomas.
A former attorney general said the attacks by some fellow politicians and newspapers reminded him of fascism.
England’s High Court ruled on Thursday that the decision to begin Britain’s formal divorce talks with the European Union should be taken by parliament, not the government.
The ruling, which could delay Prime Minister Theresa May’s plans to start the Brexit negotiations by the end of March, was met with fury by some pro-EU politicians and British newspapers.
Sajid Javid, a member of May’s cabinet, called the ruling an “unacceptable” attempt to “frustrate the will of the British people,” while The Daily Mail newspaper said the three judges who handed down the ruling were “enemies of the people.”
Other Conservative politicians have now pushed back against the criticisms.
“There is something smacking of the fascist state about them (the attacks),” Dominic Grieve, a former British attorney general, was quoted as saying in The Times on Saturday.
“It shows either a total misunderstanding of the UK constitution, which such critics periodically extol – or a deliberate desire to destroy it.”
Bob Neill, the Conservative chairman of parliament’s justice committee, warned the attacks were “threatening the independence of our judiciary” and had “no place in a civilized land” and he called on May to intervene.
A former justice minister under Labour prime minister Tony Blair, also called on the government to show it had no quarrel with the judges and had total confidence in them.
“The British public continues to have confidence in the independence and quality of judges. But both are undermined by this Brexit-inspired media vitriol,” Charles Falconer wrote in The Guardian newspaper.
May told other EU leaders on Friday she believed the court ruling would be overturned and said she would stick to her Brexit timetable.