Criminal barrister appointed new Lord Chancellor as Bar Council brands Raab resignation ‘fresh start’ for justice

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By Emily Hinkley on


Alex Chalk KC takes top justice role

Alex Chalk KC MP

A criminal barrister has become the latest Lord Chancellor and Secretary of State for Justice following the resignation of Dominic Raab.

Alex Chalk KC, a tenant at 6KBW College Hill and the member of parliament for Cheltenham was given the role on Friday afternoon, a few hours after Raab quit following a report from barrister Adam Tolley KC on allegations of bullying from civil servants.

Chalk studied modern history at Magdalen College, Oxford and completed a Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL) at City University London. He qualified as a barrister at the Inns of Court School of Law in 2001, practising for 14 years before moving to politics and winning his parliamentary seat in 2015.

Chalk took the role of Solicitor General in 2021, but resigned the following year in protest over Boris Johnson’s handling of Partygate (amongst other things). He has also served as Prisons Minister, Legal Aid Minister, Minister of State, Assistant Government Whip and Parliamentary Under Secretary of State.

He is an advocate for legal aid and access to justice and worked on many high-profile cases prior to his political career, including pro bono work for human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh who is currently imprisoned in Iran.

The Bar Council issued a response to Raab’s resignation on Friday, calling it a “fresh start” for justice.

In the statement Nick Vineall KC, chair of the bar, said: “Dominic Raab leaves the Ministry of Justice with the criminal justice system in a parlous state and long delays in the family courts. It is time for a fresh start.”

Vineall KC blamed court backlogs for “hindering timely access to justice for thousands” and causing “misery for all those working in the justice system, while anti-lawyer rhetoric undermines public confidence and adherence to the rule of law”.

Incoming Lord Chancellors take an oath to respect the rule of law and to ensure the courts have the resources they need to run efficiently, which is something many will be hoping to see fulfilled moving forward.

He continued:

“The Bar Council wants to see a properly funded justice system and greater emphasis on early diversion to reduce the pressures on the system. We need a Lord Chancellor who is prepared to focus on detail and systems and getting sustainable funding for those involved in publicly funded work. We also hope the appointment of a new Lord Chancellor will prompt a rethink of proposed Bill of Rights Bill, which is a poor piece of legislation.”

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