Is the deskilling and downgrading of our legal system a threat to democracy itself? The question is posed in a week that has seen another full-frontal assault on the fundamental right of citizens to hold the powerful to account: restricting access to judicial reviews.
This is all of a piece, is it not? Ken Clarke is pressing ahead with extending closed material procedures that will insulate the government from political consequences of its wrongdoing. ‘Being able to present evidence to a judge without the other side having the chance to refute it or even know what it is obviously gives the government a huge advantage in legal proceedings,’ says Liberty. Quite so.
Then, of course, there are the swingeing cuts to civil legal aid taking place next year and their devastating impact on access to justice, upon which we hardly need dwell here. Chris Grayling is limbering up for the emasculation of human rights, hanging his hat on the Abu Qatada deportation wrangle. And this week we also learned of the risible fees that are to be available for claims through the RTA Portal, which will encompass employer and public liability from next April.
Don’t bother calling the Gazette to allege party-political bias. When it came to the rights of the citizen ranged against money and power, New Labour were equally egregious. This is a continuum and it is deeply worrying. And dangerous.