After picking off most of the easy targets in its austerity war, the Ministry of Justice has now ordered its costs cavalry into the valley of death. The enemy: senior judges’ ability to enjoy Baywatch for free. Following its decision to remove satellite television from prisons, the ministry now says that it will no longer pay for Sky subscriptions in judges’ lodgings. The commendable aim is to cut the £5m annual cost of accommodating itinerant High Court judges.
It has not gone down well. According to The Times, one judge has detected the thin end of the wedge. ‘Next will be our cars, drinks, entertaining and flowers.’ Obiter was a bit startled by the last item, but another amplified: ‘After a day spent trying the more complex cases I am expected to entertain local dignitaries in lodgings with food and drinks all paid for by the MoJ. But after those guests have gone and I have some time to relax at last, I can no longer watch the cricket or rugby because Grayling’s cancelled the subscription just to save a few pounds.’
Obiter suggests that if the judges stayed in a Travelodge and didn’t ‘entertain local dignitaries’, the MoJ might save a few quid, but what do we know.