Justice secretary Michael Gove was sworn in as lord chancellor at the Royal Courts of Justice today, where he took oath to uphold judicial independence, access to justice and the rule of law.
Before the ceremony Gove was greeted at the judges’ entrance by master of the rolls Lord Dyson and the lord chief justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd.
Gove impressed attendees by speaking without notes, and the former journalist commented on his move from the ‘least respected’ position on the press benches to the ‘most elevated position’ as lord chancellor.
As he swore Gove in, Lord Thomas said the forensic analysis, love of communication, and thirst for ideas Gove has shown as a politician and journalist would serve him well in his new role.
He ended with the words: ‘We wish you well as you take up your responsibilities and look forward to working with you in fulfilling our respective roles in the delivery of one of the key responsibilities of the state – the delivery of justice through a shared commitment to judicial independence, access to justice and the rule of law.’
The ceremony was held in court four of the RCJ where Gove was welcomed by the attorney general Jeremy Wright MP, Law Society vice-president Jonathan Smithers and others representing the rule of law.
Welcoming Gove, Smithers spoke of the ‘period of uncertainty’ facing the legal profession, particularly for those undertaking publicly funded work. He said: ‘By working together, however, I am confident that we can find common ground to protect British values of freedom, tolerance, respect for the rule of law and equal access to justice.’
Meanwhile, legal commentator and Gazette columnist Joshua Rozenberg tweeted: ‘Gove promises to uphold independence of the judiciary and rule of law. Makes much better impression than Grayling did on this occasion.’