The president of the Supreme Court has criticised the former Lord Chancellor Liz Truss for failing to adequately defend judges involved in the Article 50 legal challenge.
In a speech delivered in the House of Lords earlier this month and published yesterday, Lady Hale stressed how it was vitally important to have a Lord Chancellor who is willing to “speak up” for judges “at the heart of government”. Appearing to take aim at Truss and her lacklustre response following the Daily Mail‘s highly-controversial “enemies of the people” headline, Hale continued:
“But we have had an unfortunate example of the member of the government charged with upholding the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary not coming to the defence of the judges as quickly or as firmly as many thought should have happened.”
The High Court ruled over two years ago that the lawful invocation of Article 50 was conditional on a free vote in parliament. The Daily Mail, a pro-Brexit newspaper at the time, went on to publish a story (front page pictured below) which claimed the court’s decision had deliberately blocked Brexit and that the judges who heard the case — Lord Thomas, Sir Terence Etherton, and Lord Justice Sales — were “enemies of the people”.
At the time, the then Lord Chancellor Truss was heavily criticised for her inadequate defence of the judiciary. In one example of lawyer outrage, seventeen QCs at London’s 1 Crown Office Row described in an open letter to the Conservative MP how they had been left “dismayed” by her tame response.
Hales comments came just a week after Paul Dacre, who was the Daily Mail’s editor until earlier this summer, defended the newspaper’s decision to run the headline. Speaking at the Society of Editors’ Conference in Manchester this month, Dacre said the newspaper “should have the freedom to write a headline about judges being the enemy of the people”.