Supreme Court judge sitting on Brexit case announces retirement

Joe Watts
Political Editor
Monday 21 November 2016 18:31
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There is no suggestion that Lord Neuberger's retirement is linked to his wife's stance on Brexit
There is no suggestion that Lord Neuberger's retirement is linked to his wife's stance on Brexit

Britain’s most senior judge has announced he will retire from his role, just days after his wife became embroiled in a spat over the critical Supreme Court Brexit case.

Lord Neuberger, the court’s president since 2012, will step down next year as he approaches statutory retirement age.

While there is no suggestion his retirement is linked to the Brexit row involving Lady Neuberger, the judge did face criticism after it broke out, including calls for him to excuse himself from hearings related to the case.

The 68-year-old will depart alongside Lord Clarke, another of the court's justices, at the end of the summer next year.

The Supreme Court will come under huge scrutiny next month when it considers the Government's appeal against a High Court ruling that Prime Minister Theresa May must seek MPs' approval to trigger the process of taking Britain out of the European Union.

In an unprecedented move, it is expected that all 11 of the Supreme Court's current justices, including Lord Neuberger, will examine the case.

But with the hearing pending, Lady Neuberger sparked a row last week by denouncing the UK’s referendum on its EU membership as "mad and bad" and said that votes for Ukip and Brexit were just "protest votes".

Landmark Brexit Ruling: What happened and what happens next?

She also retweeted, under her maiden name Angela Holdsworth, a Remain campaign article which said it seemed "unlikely that a PM could trigger Article 50 without Parliament’s approval".

Afterwards, Tory MP Andrew Rosindell claimed her intervention had been "embarrassing" for the Supreme Court and that her husband’s position had been compromised.

Delivering the Bar Council Law Reform Lecture, Lord Neuberger said that over the next two-and-a-half years there is a "significant opportunity" to recruit new members of the court.

He said: "The higher echelons of the judiciary in the United Kingdom suffer from a marked lack of diversity and here I must admit the Supreme Court does not score at all well.

"We have one white woman and 10 white men, and, although two of the 11 were not privately educated, none of us come from disadvantaged backgrounds."

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