Black humour as Chris Grayling is replaced by controversial former Education Secretary — who also has no legal training
As Twitter erupted in shock at last night’s breaking news that Michael Gove is to replace Chris Grayling as Justice Secretary, some clever soul sneaked over to Wikipedia to edit the former Education Secretary’s page.
Introducing the new Lord Chancellor’s grand idea, “Free Chambers” …
The level of detail provided about Gove’s “flagship policy” indicates pretty strongly that the editor — whose work was sadly erased overnight — was a member of the legal profession, perhaps practising at the criminal bar.
While the future of “free chambers” — a tribute to Gove’s controversial free schools policy — is hopefully non-existent, the future of the Human Rights Act (HRA) looks decidedly shaky under the new majority Tory government.
This morning The Telegraph reported that Gove — a former journalist for The Times with no legal training — has been brought in with the principle aim of demolishing the HRA and implementing a replacement “British Bill of Rights”. The paper reckons that his role “is set to be one of the highest profile positions in the new government”.
For the record, the Tory manifesto states:
“The next Conservative government will scrap the Human Rights Act, and introduce a British Bill of Rights. This will break the formal link between British courts and the European Court of Human Rights, and make our own Supreme Court the ultimate arbiter of human rights matters in the UK.”
Elsewhere, the manifesto says it will “continue to review our legal aid systems, so they can continue to provide access to justice in an efficient way” and pledges to proceed with the £375 million modernisation of the courts system, “reducing delay and frustration for the public”.
Overnight the Law Society Gazette dug out a quote from Gove’s 2006 book about the West’s responses to Islamist terrorism, Celsius 7/7, which indicates an impatience with lawyers’ commitment to civil liberties. Gove writes:
“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.”
However, in spite of the ominous signs, there have been calls on Twitter for lawyers to give the new Justice Secretary a chance, with veteran legal commentator Joshua Rozenberg praising fellow hack Gove’s ” intelligence and sensitivity”.
I wish Michael Gove well as Lord Chancellor/Justice Sec. He has the necessary intelligence and sensitivity, but must also show some humility
— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) May 9, 2015
Following Gove’s appointment, Chris Grayling, who was said to be keen to hang on to the Justice Secretary role, moves to become leader of the House of Commons.