Government primed for new assault on judges – report

Downing Street is planning curbs on judicial review going above and beyond those in legislation currently going through parliament, according to press reports this morning. Quoting ‘Whitehall sources’, The Times says that Boris Johnson is unhappy with the Judicial Review and Courts Bill and has ordered the justice secretary to toughen plans to restrict judges’ powers to rule on the legality of ministerial decisions. 

Boris Johnson

One option, drawn up by lord chancellor Dominic Raab and Suella Braverman, the attorney-general, is for MPs to pass an annual ‘Interpretation Bill’ to strike out findings from JRs with which the government does not agree. According to the newspaper, Whitehall sources argue that the bills would reinforce the constitutional principle that parliament is sovereign over the unelected judiciary. However the proposal has already attracted fierce criticism from the legal profession. 

Meanwhile, in an interview with Times Radio yesterday, Raab said that he wanted to overhaul the Human Rights Act to ‘correct’ the balance between freedom of speech and privacy. He was speaking after The Mail on Sunday  lost its appeal in the privacy case brought by the Duchess of Sussex over the publication of a letter she had sent her father.

Pledging to prioritise free speech over privacy, Raab said: ‘I think the drift towards continental-style privacy laws, innovated in the courtroom, not by elected lawmakers in the House of Commons, is something that we can and should correct.’

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