Lord chancellor and Norfolk MP Liz Truss hits back at criticism over attacks on Brexit judges

Liz Truss MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Liz Truss MP. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The Lord chancellor has spoken out about criticism she received over attacks on judges involved in the recent high court Brexit case.

Liz Truss, justice secretary and South West Norfolk MP, has faced mounting criticism, including from her own party, for her perceived unwillingness to oppose attacks on the judges who decided that the two-year formal process for leaving the EU could not be triggered by the government alone and required a vote from parliament.

But in a letter to The Times newspaper, Miss Truss has said she takes her oath to defend the judiciary seriously but will not criticise the press for the reporting of the high court Brexit case, in which three judges were called 'enemies of the people'.

She said: 'An independent judiciary is the cornerstone of the rule of law, vital to our constitution and freedoms.

'It is my duty as lord chancellor to defend that independence. I swore to do so under my oath of office. I take that very seriously and I will always do so.'

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'Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC says that 'judges should rightly fear for their independence' due to my not condemning the reaction of some newspapers to the Brexit ruling. I think it unlikely the high court is imperilled by the opinions of any newspaper.'

Miss Truss said the freedom of the press was also an important principle that was at stake in the debate.

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She said 'I believe in a free press, where newspapers are free to publish, within the law, their views,' she said. 'It is not the job of the government or lord chancellor to police headlines, and it would be a dark day for democracy if that changed.'

She added: 'The lord chief justice Lord Thomas, the master of the rolls Sir Terence Etherton and Lord Justice Sales are people of integrity and impartiality, as are the 11 Supreme Court justices who will hear the appeal.

'They have exercised that independence and made a ruling 'without fear or favour' in accordance with their judicial oath. The right of the judges to make that judgement was never in question, and I defended their independence after that decision.'

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