Richard Gordon QC has responded in a letter to The Times (18 February) to a comment piece by the former Lord Chancellor Michael Gove (Times 17 February) observing that the more assertive the judiciary becomes the more ‘it may have to prepare itself for many more jeers from the stalls in future.’ This was a veiled reference to the tabloid reaction to the Divisional Court judgment in the recent Miller (Brexit) case (‘enemies of the people’). The thrust of the letter was that the former Lord Chancellor’s reasoning was flawed in that judges take an oath to declare the law rather than to use it aggressively. Executive defence of unrestrained media criticism of judgments was also dangerous in a democracy because it had the effect of weakening the authority of judicial pronouncements and so damaging the rule of law. A similar point was made by Lord Neuberger in a recent interview with the BBC when he implicitly criticised the failure of the current Lord Chancellor to speak out in defence of the judges over the tabloid media response to the Divisional Court judgment in the Brexit case.
The letter made the further point that there was a real need for increased dialogue between the senior judiciary and parliamentarians and that such dialogue would enhance rather than lessen judicial independence.
Read the full letter here.