Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Who are these characters? Unelected Ministers....

There has never been a need to be elected to be a Minister nor indeed to be a member or either House of Parliament at the time of your appointment.  I could be made a Minister right now and exercise the Crown's powers without ever being made a member of either House of Parliament.  Although without a means of holding me to account people might get a little angsty and demand I attend Parliament to answer questions.  There has always been the option of co-opting non Parliamentarian experts into Government by the means of a Life Peerage, but I have to say I have rarely seen so many made up at once (see below).  The SNP is a bit upset about Lord Dunlop because the Tory's single MP in Scotland means that they have had to make up a Lord to find someone else to deputise for the S of S of Scotland (that one single Tory MP).......Maude is understandable, and Bridges is just promotion for an in house policy wonk.  O'Neill, Altmann and Prior are sector SMEs brought in to help in tricky areas - but do they have any legitimacy in Govt?

Lord Dunlop is a former adviser to the Prime Minister on devolved constitutional issues. He was formerly the head of policy and research for the Scottish Conservative Party, special adviser to the Defence Secretary and a member of the Downing Street Policy Unit. He was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office on 14 May 2015.
Lord Maude of Horsham served as MP for Horsham, West Sussex (1997-2015). He held several government posts, including Financial Secretary to the Treasury (1990-1992), and Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1989-1990). He is also a former chair of the Conservative Party (2005-2007). He was appointed Minister of State for Trade and Investment on 11 May 2015.
Baroness Altmann was the coalition government’s Business Champion for Older Workers and is a former non-executive policy adviser to the Policy Unit at 10 Downing Street. She was appointed Minister of State for Pensions on 11 May 2015.
Lord O'Neill of Gatley is a former chief economist at Goldman Sachs. He was appointed Commercial Secretary to the Treasury on 14 May 2015.  
Lord Bridges of Headley is a former chair of the Conservative Research Department, and was the Conservative Party's campaign director (2006-2007). He was appointed Parliamentary Secretary for the Cabinet Office on 14 May 2015.
Lord Prior of Brampton is a former chair of the Care Quality Commission (2013-2015). He served as MP for North Norfolk (1997-2001) and is a former deputy chair and CEO of the Conservative Party. He was appointed Minister for NHS Productivity in May 2015.

Sunday, 31 May 2015

New High Court Judicial Appointments

I wondered in a post below who was going to replace Eder J, and now we know: a public law and employment specialist from 11 KBW:

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Timothy Julian Kerr Esq QC, to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 4 June 2015 on the retirement of Mr Justice Eder.

The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr Kerr to the Queen’s Bench Division.

Mr Kerr, 57, was called to the Bar by Gray’s Inn in 1983 and took Silk in 2001. He was appointed a Recorder in 2008 and is approved to sit as a deputy High Court Judge. He served as a Fee-paid Chairman of the Employment Tribunals (England and Wales) from 2001 to 2006.

Mr Justice Eder was called to the Bar by the Inner Temple in 1975 and took Silk in 1990. He was appointed a Recorder in 1996 and a Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 2011.

& to replace one of my favourites on the High Court Bench (and Birmingham DCJ before then) ....a commercial/shipping silk from 7KBW:

The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Simon Derek Picken Esq QC, to be a Justice of the High Court with effect from 8 June 2015 on the retirement of Mr Justice MacDuff.

The Lord Chief Justice will assign Mr Picken to the Queen’s Bench Division.

Mr Picken, 49, was called to the Bar by the Middle Temple in 1989 and took Silk in 2006. He was appointed a Recorder in 2005 and is approved to sit as a deputy High Court Judge.

Mr Justice MacDuff was called to the Bar by Lincoln’s Inn in 1969 and took Silk in 1993. He was appointed a Recorder in 1983, a Circuit Judge in 1997, a Senior Circuit Judge in 2002 and a Judge of the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court in 2008.
& in other news: YIKES!

Thursday, 28 May 2015

EU Referendum Madness begins.....

& so it begins: The question will be

“A ddylai’r Deyrnas Unedig ddal i fod yn aelod o’r Undeb Ewropeaidd?”


Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union?

The franchise will be Parliamentary and Gibraltar is going to join in the fun....

No provision for separate majority consent in each part of the UK let's hope they all vote the same way.......

What joy!

The Bill is available on the UK Parliament website.....

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Catching up on judicial appointments........

Just a few judicial appointments in case you had missed them:

To replace Sales LJ in the Chan D -  Richard Snowden QC formerly of Erskine Chambers.

His Honour Judge Mackie CBE QC who used to run the London Mercantile Court has retired.  He appears to have been replaced by HHJ Waksman QC -although it is unclear whether this is permanent or indeed whether HHJ Waksman QC has left his North-Easter Mercantile Court post (where he was very popular and effective).

I note that His Honour Judge Peter Thornton QC has had his term of office as Chief Coroner of England and Wales extended to 1.10.16 which is excellent as Coroners are still (in my experience) in need of a firm coordinating hand.

Eder J has retired from the QBD.  No news on his replacement which I have seen....

Rose J has been made President of the Upper Tribunal Tax and Chancery Chamber to replace Warren J.

& the old LCJ, Lord Judge has been made Chief Surveillance Commissioner to replace Rose LJ.

The role of the Commissioners is to provide oversight of the way in which all public authorities in the United Kingdom (with the exception of the Security Services) carry out covert surveillance. The covert surveillance techniques overseen by the Commissioners include property interference, directed and intrusive surveillance, the use of covert human intelligence sources and the investigation of encrypted data. These techniques are governed by Part III of the Police Act 1997 and Parts II and III of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000.

Sunday, 10 May 2015



Do you recall when there was no Human Rights Act 1998 but yet Judges applied the ECHR to English Law because it was our international obligation to do so?  If the HRA is repealed - will there be any real difference from what obtained before?  Unless, of course, we are going to withdraw from the Council of Europe?  Really?  Winston would be turning in his grave.  & what of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights - that will still be binding right - oh wait,....there's going to be that EU Referendum we have been promised............GULP.....


English Parliament?  English Grand Committee of the UK Parliament?  More devolution?  Federation?  Empowered English Mayors and super local authorities?  Time for a Constitutional Convention to sort the lot out?


Boundary change could cement a Tory majority in England forever.  Proportional Representation would do the opposite?  Yikes!  Check out the boundary changes proposed last time by the Tories:  HERE


Gove as Lord Chancellor!

Apparently he wrote a book once in which he said:

'The problems we face are compounded by the dogged refusal of too many in the legal establishment to put the defence of our civilisation ahead of the defence of the traditions with which their profession has grown comfortable.'

Right to a fair trial?  Right to competent representation?  Right to remain silent?  Right to plead Not Guilty without worrying about Court Fees?  Right not to have safeguard your children or fight for your share of the matrimonial money pot without a lawyer?  Which of these old fashioned traditions should we grow less comfortable with?  Which one of these traditions should we stop defending?  Which one of them does not define our civilisation which Gove wants to defend in any event?  Cart before the horse - it is only by defending these "traditions" that we maintain our claim to be the very civilisation which Gove wants to defend............... Still he'll look lovely in the Chancellarian tights.....

Might be time to build and man those metaphorical barricades.........You'll be missing the breaking effect of those lovely Lib Dems you voted out....Bless 'em, you're going to miss 'em..........

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Happy and Glorious...and also without gender discrimination

Welcome to the first member of our ruling house to take advantage of section 1 , Succession to the Crown Act 2013, which the Lord President of the Council (or Nick Clegg for short) signed into law on 26.3.15 as one of his last executive acts in that Government (or ever?) He actually signed the Succession to the Crown Act 2013 (Commencement) Order 2015 bringing section 1 into force as of 26.3.15.

Succession to the Crown not to depend on gender

In determining the succession to the Crown, the gender of a person born after 28 October 2011 does not give that person, or that person's descendants, precedence over any other person (whenever born).

Which means that the new Princess of Cambridge (not the first, check out the Grand Duchess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz - can't find a Princess Charlotte of Cambridge - but did find one of Wales, which is what she will become if she does not marry before her father becomes Prince of Wales  - she would have come Queen Regnant instead of Victoria, but died aged 21) will be 4th in line to all 16 thrones inhabited by the UK Sovereign regardless of the gender of any further Cambridges:

The action of bringing the change into force was repeated around the 16 realms on 26.3.15 - e.g. Australia:

Succession to the Crown Commencement Proclamation 2015
I, General the Honourable Sir Peter Cosgrove AK MC (Ret’d), Governor‑General of the Commonwealth of Australia, acting with the advice of the Federal Executive Council and under items 3 and 5 of the table in subsection 2(1) of the Succession to the Crown Act 2015, fix the beginning of 26 March 2015 by United Kingdom time as the time and day on which Parts 2, 3 and 4 of, and Schedule 1 to, that Act commence.
This instrument commences on the day, and at the time, it is registered.
Signed and sealed with the Great Seal of Australia on 24 March 2015
Peter Cosgrove
By His Excellency’s Command
Curiously Canada assented to our Bill rather than make their own, because they didn't think that they had any laws of succession of their own.....although I gather their is legal action....

 The alteration in the law touching the Succession to the Throne set out in the bill laid before the Parliament of the United Kingdom and entitled A Bill to Make succession to the Crown not depend on gender; to make provision about Royal Marriages; and for connected purposes is assented to.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Leave the Director of Public Prosecutions alone...

The DPP is a statutory office in which there is vested a duty to take over and conduct of any and most (but not quite all) public prosecutions, e.g. (re the Police), section 3(2) Prosecution of Offences Act 1985:

(2) It shall be the duty of the Director[, subject to any provisions contained in the Criminal Justice Act 1987]—

(a) to take over the conduct of all criminal proceedings, other than specified proceedings, instituted on behalf of a police force (whether by a member of that force or by any other person);

 & "conduct" includes bringing such proceedings to an end: section 15

(3) For the purposes of this Part, references to the conduct of any proceedings include references to the proceedings being discontinued and to the taking of any steps (including the bringing of appeals and making of representations in respect of applications for bail) which may be taken in relation to them.

We are lucky to have her and not a politician or an elected prosecutor or a supposedly French style independent investigating Magistrate.

She makes hard tough decisions on a daily basis, and no doubt gets it wrong from time to time, being human etc.

& as Lord Bingham made clear in R v Director of Public Prosecutions, ex p Manning [2001] 1 QB 330, once she has made her decision, she is answerable to the AG but save in exception circs giving rise to grounds of JR, nobody else:

“23.The primary decision to prosecute or not to prosecute is entrusted by Parliament to the Director as head of an independent, professional prosecuting service, answerable to the Attorney General in his role as guardian of the public interest, and to no- one else. It makes no difference that in practice the decision will ordinarily be taken by a senior member of the CPS, as it was here, and not by the Director personally. In any borderline case the decision may be one of acute difficulty, since while a defendant whom a jury would be likely to convict should properly be brought to justice and tried, a defendant whom a jury would be likely to acquit should not be subjected to the trauma inherent in a criminal trial. If, in a case such as the present, the Director’s provisional decision is not to prosecute, that decision will be subject to review by senior Treasury counsel who will exercise an independent professional judgment. The Director and his officials (and senior Treasury counsel when consulted) will bring to their task of deciding whether to prosecute an experience and expertise which most courts called upon to review their decisions could not match. In most cases the decision will turn not on an analysis of the relevant legal principles but on the exercise of an informed judgment of how a case against a particular defendant, if brought, would be likely to fare in the context of a criminal trial before (in a serious case such as this) a jury. This exercise of judgment involves an assessment of the strength, by the end of the trial, of the evidence against the defendant and of the likely defences. It will often be impossible to stigmatise a judgment on such matters as wrong even if one disagrees with it. So the courts will not easily find that a decision not to prosecute is bad in law, on which basis alone the court is entitled to interfere. At the same time, the standard of review should not be set too high, since judicial review is the only means by which the citizen can seek redress against a decision not to prosecute and if the test were too exacting an effective remedy would be denied.”

We all have a right to express an opinion about her decisions, but not at the expenses of undermining the integrity with which this important office must be vested.