I’ve recently finished a very good book called ‘The Rule of Law’ by Tom Bingham that sets out, in relatively simple terms, what constitutes the RofL and the importance of a country abiding by it if wants to be considered as a modern democratic nation.
Credit for coining the expression ‘RofL’ is usually given to Professor A.V. Dicey from Oxford university who used it in his book ‘An Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution’ in 1885.
The various elements that make up the ‘RofL’ have evolved over time and are still being added today with recent considerations being needed to cover modern day terrorism and the sovereignty of Parliament over Brexit.
A point which I had not really focused on is the important part our judges play in interpreting the law whenever disputes arise but that also begs the BIG question who polices the judges?
One of the historic milestones making up the Rule of Law is Sir Matthew Hale’s list of ‘Things Necessary to be Continually had in Remembrance’. Hale was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench from 1671 to 1676. His list runs to 18 points which all judges should follow and point 10 particularly caught my eye as it states ‘ That I be not biased with compassion to the poor, or favour to the rich in point of justice’.
Recently I read a book on the Jeremy Thorpe trial and in particular the outrageously biased summing up by the Presiding Judge Joseph Cantley, who in his summing up roundly condemned the prosecution witnesses and praised the defendants, while claiming not to express an opinion! If you want to see Peter Cook at his lampooning best take a look at this from his address, in 1979, to the Secret Policeman's Ball in aid of Amnesty International in which he ridicules Cantley’s summing up!
So the point of this post is to emphasis the third part of our fourth demand ‘The People’s Consent’ which would provide the means for the public to have their say at such blatant bias by a judge. In fact this demand would apply to any judge led Public Enquiry that the public deemed to be a whitewash like the Chilcot and Hutton reports.
Finally if so many politicians want a second referendum then how about the people having their say on their performance when they feel like it? Now that is how democracy should work and I would find it hard to believe anyone would not agree?