Letter: Tired old rhetoric, Lord Irvine

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The Independent Online
LORD IRVINE's claim of independence for the judiciary is not the least of the empty points he makes (Letters, 29 November) but it is the most deeply ironic, coming from a judge who is a member of the Cabinet.

The involvement of some of the county court judiciary in local political mafias, the appetite for promotion of the lower order judges, as well as the higher, in a hierarchical system, the longstanding palliness of judges with senior silks, of revenue commissioners with the revenue service, are just some of the institutional limits on independence. The direction to the jury in the Ponting case, the loyalty of colleagues who kept an insane Lord Chief Justice in power for years, (but then, as one judge told me, "he was like that anyway"), the sycophancy surrounding the office of Lord Chancellor, are familiar examples that weaken this familiar rhetoric of government.

ANTHONY BECK

London SW6

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