Conflict Of Interest? Leveson Silk Robert Jay QC Is Ed Miliband’s Wife’s Head Of Chambers

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By Alex Aldridge on

As you may or may not know, Ed Miliband’s wife, Justine Thornton, is a barrister at 39 Essex Street Chambers – which is led by Leveson Inquiry heartthrob Robert Jay QC.

In case you missed it, Miliband spent yesterday afternoon at said inquiry being grilled by Jay.

The political blogger Guido Fawkes reckons this represents an “apparent conflict of interest” which “should see someone else interrogate the Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition.”

To reinforce his point, Fawkes – who, incidentally, was a surprise attendee at the April legal tweet-up at the Melton Mowbray pub in Holborn – added: “Imagine the fuss if Jay was Sam Cam’s boss…”

Following Fawkes’ bringing to attention of the matter, Jay made the following declaration – as reported in the Guardian:

“Jay reopens the inquiry by confirming he is head of chambers at the law firm where Miliband’s wife works. However, he says he has not met Miliband outside the circumstances of this inquiry.”

Commenters on Fawkes’ blog were split on the issue of whether Jay’s apparent authority over Thornton had affected the impartiality of the inquiry.

Geoffrey wrote: “There’s a ‘legal fiction’ that barristers in the same chambers are independent of one another.”

To which Giant Gonad responded: “Hard to call Jay her ‘boss’, when they are both self-employed.”

Fake Blood was with Geoffrey, though: “Cobblers. If he’s head of chambers then he controls what goes on there. Employees, sub-contractors and barristers all.”