Happy 800th Anniversary Magna Carta – where has justice gone?

Happy Birthday Magna Carta! 800 years tomorrow!

This article was written two months ago, just before the election. The general message should be clear to all readers, and has just been solidly reinforced by Cameron’s appointment of a second non-lawyer as Lord Chancellor, Michael Gove.

I shudder to contemplate the state of Justice in this country by the time of the next election, but if I were to offer a prediction, I would borrow the words of J.R.R. Tolkein: “History became legend. Legend became myth”. Much of the Justice system of England and Wales is already history, which doesn’t bode well for five years’ time.


On 15th June 2015, we celebrate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta. The website, which has been set up as part of the celebration of this great event, emphasises the importance of this innovative document, which established for the first time the accountability of the state and the rights of the common man. The above web page heralds as its title “To no one deny or delay right or justice”. A noble proclamation, and ye (well, we) can all find countless pages devoted to the Magna Carta celebrations on the web.

So, why ye (sorry, you) may ask, is there a Vote for Justice Rally on the 23rd April, less than 2 months before the 800th anniversary of arguably the most important event in English justice, ever?

The short answer is that the last two years have seen the most significant and sustained assault on justice in…

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Err, TWO non-lawyer Lord Chancellors?

Radio silence for the last month, I know, but life has overtaken me, and, if I’m honest, all has gone quiet (well, relatively so) on the MOJ front.

Not really surprising since we have just had an election however, and all the new incumbents have of course retired to the “Plotting Room” to hack out their battle plans.

Did I say “Plotting Room”?

I meant “Cabinet Room”.

It’s now old news that Cameron has appointed Michael Gove as Lord Chancellor. It’s also old news that Mr Gove is the second LC appointed by Mr Cameron (in a row) to be missing a professional legal qualification. To be fair to Mr Gove, he hasn’t had a chance to make his presence felt yet, and it’s only fair that we give him that chance. I’m talking of course about his role as LC. Obviously he’s had his fair share of headlines to date:

  1. the National Association of Head Teachers,
  2. the Association of Teachers and Lecturers,
  3. the National Union of Teachers, and
  4. the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers,

…due to his education policies. Tim Gallagher, who proposed the motion for the NAHT, said: “This motion’s intention is to send the strongest message possible to this government that many of their education policies are failing our children, their parents and the very fabric of our school communities.” His education policies were considered by highly experienced Head Teachers as “devoid of meaningful consultation” and “lacking in understanding”.

Interestingly, Chris Grayling, his predecessor as Lord Chancellor, was accused by the legal profession of skimping on his consultations and of having no understanding of his role – the more observant readers may have spotted a theme developing at this point (as will the less observant).

But, the purpose of this brief missive (for those used to my blogs who are currently uncorking the bottled oxygen, I promise, this one is brief) is not to discuss Mr Gove’s record at the MOJ. Time enough for that later.

The purpose of this article is simply to float a question, which I am surprised I have not seen raised since the election.

What possible reason could there be for Cameron appointing two non-lawyer Lord Chancellors?

The first? Possibly coincidence, on a good day, if you were feeling in a generous mood, downhill, with a following wind (and possibly afterburners) etc, etc.

The second? Coincidence again? Not a chance.

The only rational explanation for appointing two non-lawyers to the position of Lord Chancellor, having already run the five year gauntlet of beatings from the judiciary, can only be to ensure that justice does not get in the way of cost cutting.

After all, if you were demolishing a house, you wouldn’t use a builder. Would you.