Was it something she didn’t say?
The Ministry of Justice has confirmed that the ceremony to make Lord Chancellor Liz Truss an honorary bencher of Lincoln’s Inn “has been postponed” and no new date has been arranged.
The news comes less than a fortnight after Truss failed to condemn tabloid newspaper attacks on the judiciary after their ruling that Brexit should be put before parliament — an omission that has seriously angered the legal profession.
Perhaps inevitably, the delay of the ceremony is being interpreted as a deliberate snub. Indeed, Daily Mail diarist Sebastian Shakespeare is claiming this morning that a source has told him just this, writing:
Lincoln’s Inn had a change of heart, I am told, about making her an honorary Bencher after some senior members — the so-called Benchers — protested that Truss didn’t do enough to stand up for the judiciary following this month’s controversial High Court ruling that Theresa May can only trigger the process for leaving the European Union via a vote in Parliament.
There is a convention to make all Lord Chancellors honorary benchers, which is a senior role conferred by the four Inns of Court — Lincoln’s Inn, Gray’s Inn, Inner Temple and Middle Temple — on senior legal figures. Even the hated Chris Grayling, who was responsible for implementing scything legal aid cuts and like Truss is not a lawyer, got the title (courtesy of Gray’s Inn, which made it rather unpopular for a while). So the passing over of Truss is significant.
However, despite the bitterness felt towards Truss by many lawyers, it would seem highly unlikely that she will be permanently excluded from bencher status. Much more plausible would be that Lincoln’s Inn is mindful of the backlash that Gray’s Inn received when Grayling got the gig, and has decided to put Truss’s bencher baptism on hold until the Brexit legal ruling has been concluded by the Supreme Court — and the likely further fuss has blown over.
This morning Lincoln’s Inn told Legal Cheek that it has “no comment” to make on the matter.