Ex-magic circle heavyweight takes up ministerial role at MoJ

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By Thomas Connelly on


Barrister Sir Christopher Bellamy QC appointed parliamentary under secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice

Sir Christopher Bellamy QC

Former magic circle heavyweight Sir Christopher Bellamy QC has been appointed parliamentary under secretary of state in the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the government has confirmed.

Bellamy was a member of Monckton Chambers from 1970 to 1992, specialising in European, competition and regulatory law, before becoming a judge to the General Court of the European Union in 1992. He went on to set-up the UK’s Competition Appeal Tribunal — a judicial body which hears and decides cases involving competition or economic regulatory issues — and later joined Linklaters as a senior consultant.

Bellamy, 76, was appointed chairman of the firm’s global competition practice in 2011 but stepped down in 2020 to rejoin Monckton.

While a minister, Bellamy will not be accepting any work through the London set.

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In a statement the government said:

“The Queen has been pleased to approve the appointment of Sir Christopher Bellamy QC as a Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice. Her Majesty has also been pleased to signify Her intention of conferring a peerage of the United Kingdom for Life on Sir Christopher.”

The appointment follows the departure in April of fellow barrister Lord Wolfson in response to the “scale, context and nature” of breaches of Covid regulations in Downing Street. He has since rejoined One Essex Court.

Legal Cheek readers will recognise Bellamy as the author of the independent review into the criminal legal aid budget. The top barrister recommended, among other things, a cash injection of £135 million a year as a “minimum” first step to “nursing” the system back to health after “years of neglect”.

Although the government accepted the key recommendation, criminal barristers continue to adopt a policy of ‘no-returns‘ — not accepting cases that are returned by colleagues who have a diary clash — arguing the increase in fees under the new proposals will “not be sufficient to retain enough criminal barristers to keep the wheels of justice turning”.

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