“If I see the rule of law being broken in a way that I find unacceptable then, of course I will go”(emphasis provided). Those words might be spoken sincerely and be adhered to strictly by any dictator such as a Putin, a Kim Jong-un or a Xi Jinping without hindering in anyway their tyrannical reign and their total disregard for the rule of law. However, they are not words that would have been uttered by Lord Chancellors of the past. By the Gardiners, Hailshams and Mackays or even by more recent holders of the office such as Derry Irvine, Charlie Falconer or Kenneth Clark. That said, after the disgraceful and incompetent Chancellorship of Chris Grayling, we might at least have thought that no further degradation of the Chancellorship was possible. And then came Lord Chancellor Robert Buckland and that astonishing statement that his adherence to the rule of law by upholding the Northern Ireland Protocol depends on whether he finds it personally acceptable or not. There is nothing in Buckland’s history to suggest he is personally indifferent to the rule of law and his oath of office includes a promise to uphold it. So how, other than craven lick-spittle toadying to the Prime Minister and his crazed puppet master in No.10, can one explain his throwing over the rule of law and the justice which it secures for us all?
Published by Peter G Harris
Peter G Harris is a barrister and was a senior civil servant responsible for advising ministers in the UK on policy and legislation for reforming the civil law and civil justice system. He is now based at Exeter College in the University of Oxford where he teaches and continues to think about the law as an instrument of public policy. View all posts by Peter G Harris