Lord Mance becomes latest casualty of the Brexit legal challenge chaos
A Supreme Court judge will no longer be giving a scheduled lecture on the law and Europe, seemingly over concerns about media attacks.
Lord Mance (pictured top) was expected to deliver a speech at Lincoln’s Inn this Thursday (details screenshotted below), but his appearance has reportedly been cancelled following “harsh personal attacks” from the tabloid newspapers.
This according to former justice Lord Hope, who reportedly told a meeting hosted yesterday by think tank Policy Exchange:
Supreme Court judges do give and publish lectures as part of their public [role]. This [excessive criticism] runs the risk of closing things down. At least one lecture [Lord Mance’s] was taken out in case it excites that sort of comment.
He went on to describe this as “bad for democracy”.
— JudicialPowerProject (@judicialpwr) November 28, 2016
With less than a week to go before ex-commercial barrister Mance and his colleagues are scheduled to hear one of the — if not the — most important constitutional law cases of a generation, the tabloid media’s spotlight continues to shine unusually brightly on the judiciary.
As discussed by Legal Cheek journalists Katie King and Tom Connelly on last week’s Facebook livestream, the Brexit High Court challenge — in which the court ruled against the government — has seen the relationship between the newspapers and the judiciary come under unprecedented strain. The Daily Mail and others have painted the Brexit judges as “enemies of the people”, trying to overrule the will of the 17.4 million Leave voters.
As the Miller case makes its way through the appeal courts, media attention has shifted to the Supreme Court — and it hasn’t been pretty.
In the past few weeks, there have been calls for both Lord Neuberger and Lady Hale to recuse themselves from hearing the case, due in court on 5 December, over accusations of judicial bias. Law student favourite Hale in particular was lambasted by the likes of political journalist Melanie Phillips for comments she made about Europe during a recent lecture; small wonder then that Mance’s speech isn’t going ahead.
The Supreme Court confirmed to us that Lord Mance has withdrawn from delivering the Thomas More Lecture, and declined to comment further.