Top QC renews attack on EU judges, days after husband BoJo’s controversial Brexit piece

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Marina Wheeler may upset colleagues at One Crown Office Row

Leading human rights barrister Marina Wheeler QC has launched a stinging attack on the European Union, accusing its judges of ignoring the bloc’s own laws on national security.

The One Crown Office Row advocate wrote in the Spectator that EU judges have overstepped the mark by meddling with the security services, and called for the UK to reclaim its national sovereignty.

Wheeler says that “in a series of recent, poorly reasoned decisions” on collecting bulk communications data, the Court of Justice (ECJ) overlooked EU legislation and treaty provisions instructing it to butt out. The Luxembourg court, she wrote:

[F]ailed to refer to its own previous judgments which recognised public security as being outside its remit.

UK judges on the Investigatory Powers Tribunal recently referred a case brought by right to privacy charity Privacy International to the EU court. The case concerns the collection of bulk communications data, which can include information about people’s calls, emails and internet use. Wheeler says this is:

[A]n astonishing state of affairs. Apart from anything else, the ECJ is ill-equipped to rule on such matters… It has no facility to handle security-sensitive evidence, unsurprisingly, given member states did not intend it to have a national security role.

The QC’s views on Europe are of particular interest, coming just days after her husband, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, caused a political row with an inflammatory pro-Brexit essay. The 4,000-word screed, which controversially repeated that £350 million pledge, was widely seen as a challenge to the authority of Prime Minister Theresa May.

Notably, when Wheeler attacked David Cameron’s EU deal last February, it foreshadowed Johnson’s conversion to the Leave cause days later. Now, The Sun is reporting this latest intervention as: “BOJO STICKS WIFE IN, Boris Johnson’s lawyer wife backs Hard Brexit”.

The stance taken by Wheeler, a public law specialist at One Crown Office Row, may grate with her colleagues at the prestigious set. Two thirds of barristers backed a Remain vote, according to a Legal Cheek survey of the profession. High profile Brexit backers are fairly rare in legal circles, but include Martin Howe QC of 8 New Square and former Court of Appeal judge Sir Richard Aikens.

Cambridge grad Wheeler finished her law degree in 1983 and also has a masters in EU law. She was called in 1987 and took silk in 2016. She married Johnson, with whom she has four children, in 1993.

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Not Amused

Look, don’t say “The stance … may grate with her colleagues”. Yes it is true that educated and informed people who voted leave have faced constant personal abuse ever since the referendum was proposed. I know, I’ve endured it.

But even I refuse to accept that the profession would ever stop that low. It was a political question about the political future of our country. It is perfectly OK for people to disagree and to hold different views. We are all talking about the future, so no matter how sure and certain you feel you are in your personal prediction, we are all just guessing.

The Bar is really all we have left in the country of educated, enlightened individuals who use reason and not emotion. While everyone else descends in to abuse, emotion and vicious name calling – I remain certain that the Bar will not do so.



Perhaps you are better off listening to the economists rather than the wife of BoJo, Nigel Farage and the guy who serves you at the local chippy.



I think when Not Amused refers to “Informed” it is in reference to a conversation with the staff at the local chippy. I think you may get more respect if there was in fact any substance or reason behind the decision to vote leave. As it stands of course people are going to give you abuse because you have cost them a wedge of cash (to date I have lost at leave £5,000 on holiday spend due to the devalued pound) and an unquantifiable amount in respect of future prosperity.

If you shoot somebody in the foot based on “reason” with no logic then people will hit back at you. Quick playing the victim, you are the perpetrator. Or perhaps more fittingly, a traitor.


Not Amused

There were lots of reasons to vote leave. There were lots of reasons to vote remain.

I found the reasons to vote leave to be ultimately more compelling. You found the reasons to vote remain to be ultimately more compelling.

That’s it. Everything else is emotion, hyperbole and abuse – none of which should really be a part of this issue.



Life is full of choices. People make choices for a variety of different reasons. That should not prevent people’s choices from being criticised. The Brexit vote is no exception. Your choice has been rightly criticised and you are palming off criticism as emotion, hyperbole and abuse and playing the victim.

Corbyn. Symphathiser

The trans-late-a-tron says: “I’m sick of people moaning at me for my appalling decisions, could my actions stop having consequences, please?”


Wouldn’t expect anything less from NA. She won’t even admit she was wrong now !

One could imagine her in a vehicle on the hard shoulder telling the AA man “Look, it was my decision not to refill the petrol tank, it was a decision I chose to take at the time and I refuse to accept criticism for it”

Air Hair Lair

Lots of compelling arguments were made , most of them were proved lies or inaccuracies .

May’s vision for Brexit in her pointless Florence speech certainly looks
different to anything Vote Leave etc claimed!

Your Brexit has gorn down the plughole.


The Maybot never ceases to surprise me. A rare combination indeed of viciousness and gross ‘stop the train’ incompetence.

Florence proved that you should never assume she’s hit the bottom yet – she can always find it in herself to go a little deeper like some sort of sick fractal. In a way, I suppose that is quite impressive..


So, so insightful. If only we had the right person to help us out – like a bearded old fool who admires every unpleasant communist government in history. That’d put everything to rights.


Was I advocating that ?

Err no, no I wasn’t.

Just Anonymous

“I think you may get more respect if there was in fact any substance or reason behind the decision to vote leave.”

Voting leave will enable the U.K. to jettison the principle of free movement, thereby allowing it reduce immigration to the tens of thousands – or any number it chooses.

There you go. Perfectly respectable reason to leave. You might not like it. You might not agree it. You might hate it. But this childish refusal to accept even that the Leavers had a reasonable point is precisely why so many voted leave,



Why don’t we just build some walls round each village and down and prevent migration across the country too? Or perhaps only allow people to frequent the 5 pubs nearest to them? Let’s also ban imports of all food and eat potatoes or whatever Trevor and Doris next door manage to grow next month.

Free movement of people comes with free movement of goods and markets. Europe will grind us to the bone on that point and we will suffer hugely as a result. Racist Dan from Bradford and heads in the clouds idealist BoJo and Farage supporters from London do not seem to understand that and will continue to flog the dead horse until that is what we will be eating from our baron fields.

Just Anonymous

“Why don’t we just build some walls round each village and down and prevent migration across the country too? Or perhaps only allow people to frequent the 5 pubs nearest to them? Let’s also ban imports of all food and eat potatoes or whatever Trevor and Doris next door manage to grow next month.”

Straw-men. Irrelevant. Tedious. Pointless.

“Free movement of people comes with free movement of goods and markets.”

Wrong. Counterexample: NAFTA.


NAFTA is from a completely different region. Something similar would not work for the UK given our proximity to Europe, the fact that the EU infrastructure is already there, and the fact that we are walking away from that.

Just Anonymous

“our proximity to Europe”

Canada, USA and Mexico are all connected by land borders.

We’re separated from Europe by the English Channel.

So this point makes no sense.

“The fact that the EU infrastructure is already there”

So? What “infrastructure” prevents us from having free trade but not free movement. Be specific.

“The fact that we’re walking away from them”

The prospect of the EU throwing a temper tantrum because we don’t share their ideological goal of a United States of Europe is hardly a persuasive argument.


“So this point makes no sense.”

Your response is what is nonsensical. The impact of the presence of the English channel compared to the distance between Mexico and Canada is negligible.

“So? What “infrastructure” prevents us from having free trade but not free movement. Be specific.”

The fact that the EU infrastructure is there, in place, and that they are currently holding all the cards. To set an example they of course will not make it easy for us to get a deal whereby we get one but not the other. Britain deciding to leave and expecting otherwise is as much a case of us “throwing a tantrum” as them defending the position of Europe.

Just Anonymous

“Your response is what is nonsensical. The impact of the presence of the English channel compared to the distance between Mexico and Canada is negligible.”

Your argument is that UK/Europe is distinguishable from NAFTA because of our proximity to Europe.

But the USA and Canada are even closer in proximity to each other, and manage to have a free trade agreement without free movement. So I see no distinction.

“The fact that the EU infrastructure is there, in place”

I ask again – what infrastructure? Explain how this rules out a free trade only agreement.

The EU might not want to give us a free trade only agreement. That does not support your claim – which is that free trade is impossible without free movement.


The UK/Europe is indeed distinguishable from NAFTA because of our proximity to Europe in the sense that it means we have no option but to strike the best deal with Europe.

There is a large number of countries involved, each with varying bargaining power but not one of them big enough to call the shots – even remotely.

The EU do not want to give us a free trade only agreement and they do not have to. They are the equivalent of the US but with a more European, progressive view on free movement of people and its relationship with trade.

We are not in the position to be calling the shots here. We can shut up our borders but if we do that we deserve to say goodbye to everything that isn’t produced on this island which on its own is a pile of crap.

Just Anonymous

Ok. You’ve now given up any argument that free trade logically requires free movement.

Your sole point is that EU demands free movement, and we have no choice but to accept their demands since, by ourselves, the UK is a ‘pile of crap.’

I don’t like bullies. And I don’t accept your characterisation of our position, given our status as the world’s fifth largest economy.

So with all due respect – bollocks to that.


“Counterexample: NAFTA.”

Yeah, it’s well known that there is absolutely no immigration into the US from Mexico except that authorised by the US gvt.

Air Hair Lair

This Free Movement of which you speak, it ‘s a bad thing , is it?
An End to Free Movement of People- who does that refer to?
Does it include us?

Scep Tick

I would happily listen to any economist that predicted the 2008 crash to within, say, 1 month, and got the total financial cost right to, say, within a billion quid.

Otherwise I’d rather listen to Mystic Meg.



You are a genius, my friend. The bookies also got it so wrong when Leicester won the league. Mind lending me a couple of grand to go whack on Palace this season? What do the bookies know?



“[You]’ve endured it” because you’ve richly deserved it !


Judge Dredd

Knee trembling



She’s a massive idiot by the way. So much for those taking silk being the brightest and the best.

Should give hope to everyone.

Just as long as she doesn’t end up on the bench *shudder*



Very useful to keep a record of this, next time somebody wants to publicly publish, savaging a decision by a judge/court. If someone says “you could be in contempt” I could say … well look at this!



If the European Court and other state apparatuses do not create an IT path for growth with surveillance etc, how are the pension funds invested in these companies going to hit the targets they need to pay out to the aging population….if judges had to be overpromoted in places of those who would have used proper reasoning so be it. Don’t forget that noting judgments started off as a hobby in Roman times. There was never anything sacred in judgments other than the good of the empire. The empire needs economic growth today and the European Court has played its part.


ex 1 CoR pupil

Does that QC drink around Waterloo station?


Ciaran Goggins

She was in Palermo, Harini Iyengar was not.


Ciaran Goggins

Human rights maven who does nowt about lack of anonymity for rape trial defendants? Ask Grahame Stening?



Comments on the ECJ are of course relevant to the Brexit leave/remain debate. Comments on Human Rights are not, the ECHR is nothing to do with the EU, and regulates us as a signatory to the ECHR.


Comments are closed.