Judgement day :LETTER

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The Independent Online
From Dr Robert Stevens

Sir: I have no doubt that, in the abstract, both the Lord Chief Justice and Michael Beckman QC are right. "Quality should be the only" criterion for appointment to the bench (letter, 17 June).

Sadly, the political and legal systems do not operate in the abstract. As judges have acquired more power by extending the operation of judicial review, and as the operation of the European Union has forced judges to review English law for conformity to EU law, the political and social views of judges have become both more obvious and more important.

Now that the judiciary, led by the Lord Chief Justice, is demanding a Bill of Rights, their views (and prejudices) are going to shape the future of British politics. Before the Houses of Parliament agree to hand over a significant share of their sovereignty to the judiciary, they should make certain that they have a significant input into the choice of the judges.

Yours faithfully,

ROBERT STEVENS

Master

Pembroke College

Oxford

19 June

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