Hoffmann given boost by Lord Irvine

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The Independent Online
THE LORD Chancellor said yesterday that Lord Hoffmann should not be made to stand down for his "error of judgment" in the Pinochet case.

Speaking publicly for the first time about the law lord's role in the case, Lord Irvine of Lairg said he believed such an error was unlikely to happen again "in a hundred years".

He said Lord Hoffmann, whose failure to declare his links to Amnesty International led to an appeal judgment by the Law Lords being set aside, was too good a lawyer to be lost to the system.

The Lord Chancellor's comments will come as a great relief to Lord Hoffmann whose career was hanging in the balance after five of his fellow law lords criticised his lack of judgment in the appeal of former Chilean leader General Augusto Pinochet against his extradition to Spain. A new panel of seven law lords is re-considering the appeal.

Lord Irvine said: "There is no doubt that the standing of the system has taken a bit of a knock because the House of Lords had to set aside a previous decision of itself and start again."