England and Wales is set for its fifth change of lord chancellor since 2012 as incumbent David Lidington MP took centre stage in the government reshuffle. Lidington has been appointed chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Cabinet Office minister, Downing Street confirmed this afternoon. Dominic Raab, currently minister of justice, was been heavily touted as his most likely successor.
Lidington was sworn in only last June as the fourth non-lawyer lord chancellor in quick succession following the dismissal of Kenneth Clarke in 2012.
At his swearing in, Lidington was at pains to distance himself from his predecessor by stressing the importance of an independent judiciary as ’the bedrock of a free and democratic society’.
Commenting on the prospect of a new lord chancellor, Angela Rafferty QC, chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, said: 'Stability and investment is needed at a time when public confidence in the criminal justice system has been eroded. Risks of miscarriages of justice have been highlighted. Successive governments have made counterproductive and unjustified cuts to funding. With the fifth change of secretary of state for justice in under five years the public will rightly require reassurance that justice is given priority.'
In other reshuffle news, solicitor Helen Grant MP, a junior justice minister from 2012 to 2013, has been appointed vice chairman of the Conservative Party.
More news as it comes.
Revolving doors: lord chancellors since 2010
Kenneth Clarke QC MP: May 2010 - September 2012
Chris Grayling MP: September 2012 - May 2015
Michael Gove MP: May 2015 - July 2016
Elizabeth Truss MP: July 2016 - June 2017
David Lidington MP: June 2017 - January 2018
S.2 of Constitutional Reform Act provides PM can only appoint someone as LC she thinks is qualified to do job, crucially protecting rule of law, judges and access to justice. Means can only appoint someone who will put these values above personal or party considerations.— Charlie Falconer (@LordCFalconer) January 8, 2018
As @lawsocgazette reports here (sorry for wrong link earlier) https://t.co/nzKcf4czcd we are about to have our sixth Lord Chancellor in six years. When the Conservatives were last in power, Lord Mackay of Clashfern held the post for a decade.— Joshua Rozenberg (@JoshuaRozenberg) January 8, 2018
Yet more chopping and changing in the Ministry of Justice. This means there will have been 4 Justice Secretaries in just 18 months. Prisons, probation, courts and access to justice deserves better than this. https://t.co/SXIy5tCUpU— Richard Burgon MP (@RichardBurgon) January 8, 2018
Yet other change at MoJ. Third since she became PM, in a department that requires continuity.— David Allen Green (@davidallengreen) January 8, 2018
May likes laws, but not those who need access to courts to enforce rights.
Putting people in prison, but not stable prisons policy.
This turnover means she regards MoJ with contempt. https://t.co/BlRXQzd9kU