Liz Truss – Climbing the Greasy Pole?
Two articles today raise concerns about the ability of Liz Truss to properly discharge her functions as Lord Chancellor.
A Times interview with Lord Faulks, ex-justice minister (who had served under the two previous Chancellors) seems less than enamoured with the appointment of Liz Truss as the first woman Lord Chancellor in 800 years.
Her promotion led to his resignation owing to her perceived inexperience and lack of the necessary ‘clout’ to stand up to the Prime Minister on behalf of Judges.
Truss’s appointment continues the pattern of appointment to the office of individuals who are not lawyers, leading to suggestions that this shows a low regard from Government of the justice system in general. The current trend began with the appointment of the hapless Chris Grayling in 2012. His successor Michael Gove appeared to spend much of his tenure undoing the mistakes of Grayling, while appearing to generate working relationships with sectors of the profession and setting out welcome plans for prison reform.
Lord Faulks expressed concerns that it fall to Truss to ensure that adequate funding was provided for the courts, and importantly that the rule of law is upheld across Government. The appointment appears to run counter to the conclusion of the Lords Constitution Committee who in 2014 stated that the Lord Chancellor should be a politician with significant ministerial or other relevant experience and with sufficient authority, and without an eye to a political career.
In that regard, while being pleased that the post has been awarded to a woman, Lord Falconer expressed concerns. He stated that it was worrying that Theresa May “has appointed an ambitious middle-ranking minister unlikely to challenge the PM if she thought it might damage her career.” Damningly he claimed ‘Liz Truss has not the experience or gravitas and gives every impression of only wanting to climb the greasy pole.”
An on-line article in the Legal Business Blog talks of the appointment being an ‘underwhelming one, given her track record in voting in favour of legal aid cuts [and] her perceived lack of intellectual rigour.” The final question posed is ‘How did Dominic Grieve not get the job?’
In an opinion piece in The Times today (behind a Pay Wall unfortunately) Lord Falconer goes further and sets out his view that the appointment of Liz Truss is unlawful. The relevant legislation is the Constitutional Reform Act 2005. Part 2 sets out a prohibition against a recommendation for Lord Chancellor unless the nominee is qualified by experience. The experience listed on her website doesn’t seem to make the case very strongly. Is the appointment open to challenge?
The Tory chair of the Commons justice select committee has become the latest senior political figure to question the credentials of newly appointed lord chancellor and justice secretary Liz Truss. Story to be found here.