From bar to the bench? Leveson star Jay tipped for promotion


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The Independent Online

For all Levesonistas addicted to their regular fix of QC Robert Jay's inquisitorial gymnastics, the cold turkey has begun. There is no witness list for Monday, no opportunity to fantasise about who will get skewered or toasted.

Although the inquiry's business is far from complete – there is the small matter of a report to write – the daily cross-examinations are over.

The winding-up of the inquiry has led to speculation in legal circles about the future of Mr Jay, the inquiry's chief counsel and stand-out star. Fresh from being named 2012's "Barrister of the Year", Mr Jay has let it quietly be known that he will be enjoying "a short holiday in August". Gossips have suggested the 52-year-old could transfer his interrogation skills to television, perhaps replacing Piers Morgan on CNN or standing in for Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight. But the smart money is on the QC taking a less showbiz road, continuing his on his pre-Leveson career path towards the bench.

Large-scale inquiries like Leveson are generally seen as perfect territory for QCs who hope to become judges. And he is already a deputy high court judge, appointed in 2008, having been a recorder of the crown court since 1999.

A few more years of big ticket trials could follow, but it is widely believed in legal circles that Mr Jay will ultimately become Mr Justice Jay.

Before the inquiry Mr Jay was involved in high-level landmark litigation. He was instructed by the Treasury Solicitor to act for the Foreign Office in the Mau Mau trial that attempted to block a compensation bid by Kenyans over allegations that they were victims of British atrocities during the 1950s uprising. Clerks at his chambers know former clients, such as the Home Office, are waiting with open arms.

As a silk specialising in administrative and public law, the Leveson inquiry's televised sessions have turned Mr Jay into a star performer.

Lawyer speak: Jay's gems

During the Leveson hearings, Jay appeared to relish flaunting his erudition. Here are some his best moments:

Bailiwick n. A person's special field of interest

Occlude v. To close or block off

Adventitious adj. something arising out its natural habitat

Recondite adj. Obscure, nor not easily understood

Propinquity n. proximity, or similarity in nature