Don’t post in anger, I resolved many years ago. Wait for calm and let any fury in the writing be calculated, I thought. It was, and is, a wise rule. But today I am prepared to make an exception.
Today was the day a Lord Chancellor made a public announcement that people who were or might be presumed to be opposed to Government policy, should be prevented from bringing judicial review claims and that he was introducing proposals to bring this about.
Today was the day a Lord Chancellor stated, pretty much explicitly, that the rule of law should not be allowed to ‘disrupt Government policy’ and he intended to make sure it didn’t.
We knew that Grayling was not a lawyer. Famously the first Lord Chancellor not to be a lawyer since the 17th century. His appointment has been described by Sir Stephen Sedley in these terms
The decision in 2012 to put a political enforcer, Chris Grayling, in charge of the legal system carried a calculated message: the rule of law was from now on, like everything else, going to be negotiable.
While the assault on legal aid has had clear political motivations lurking under the banal justifications of ‘no money, dear boy’, lip service was always paid to the principle of rule of law and access to justice – the practice being another matter entirely.
But Grayling has taken off the fig-leaf. This is now expressly about limiting, or avoiding challenges to state power.
As I read Grayling’s poisonous words, drafted by some ambitious, unctuous, amoral SPAD perhaps but approved by him, and his triumphant assertion that Judicial Review must not be allowed to interfere with Government policy, which is, but of course, ‘for the good of the country’, I hear the distant pitter patter of jackboots and the opening solo of ‘Tomorrow Belongs To Me’.
Grayling has demonstrated utter contempt for the rule of law and for his office as Lord Chancellor. He must resign from that office.
[There is, of course, a consultation on ‘reform’ of judicial review also announced today. One might well take the view that the consultation is heavily coloured by Grayling’s public pronouncement.]
[Also, I understand that Grays Inn made Grayling an honorary bencher. So, Grays Inn, a decision you may wish to reconsider? Conduct unbecoming? ]