The Lord Chancellor Liz Truss has spoken up for press freedom in response to those who say she has not defended judges from recent media attacks.
The Daily Mail last Friday described three judges as “enemies of the people” on its front page. And the Daily Telegraph published the judges’ pictures along with the headline: “The judges versus the people”.
They were responding to the High Court ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May cannot trigger Article 50 (to leave the European Union) without consulting Parliament.
In a letter to The Times today Truss wrote: “Lord Falconer of Thoroton, QC (letter, Nov 9), says that ‘judges should rightly fear for their independence’ due to my not condemning the reaction of some newspapers to the Brexit ruling. I think it unlikely the High Court is imperilled by the opinions of any newspaper.
“However there is another principle at stake here: the freedom of the press. I believe in a free press, where newspapers are free to publish, within the law, their views. It is not the job of the government or lord chancellor to police headlines, and it would be a dark day for democracy if that changed.”
IPSO chairman Sir Alan Moses, who is a former appeal court judge, was asked by the BBC on Sunday whether he expected Truss to do more to defend the judiciary. He said: “Absolutely, it’s not what I expect, she’s under a statutory obligation to uphold the rule law, essential to which is protecting the judges from ignorant criticism.”