That-was-the-week-150x150On Wednesday Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, gave evidence to the House of Lords constitution committee. He criticised the measures in the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 which created the post of Chief Justice, removing the role as head of the judiciary from the duties of the Lord Chancellor. Judge argued that separating the judiciary from the cabinet had resulted in the Lord Chancellor becoming head of a large department with conflicting interests, and had left nobody in parliament who could speak for the judiciary. Joshua Rozenberg’s analysis is available here.

Lord Judge was also in the news this week for his remarks on the use of television cameras in court. Broadcasters will be allowed in the Court of Appeal from October. He said:

“I’m perfectly happy for cameras to come in to court providing their presence doesn’t increase the risk that justice won’t be done. Not sentencing, I take a very strong view about sentencing.

“Everybody thought that if you fixed the camera on the judge then it would be all right, but of course people can demonstrate during the sentencing remarks, so there are cheers and boos.

“We have to be very careful about how this works.”

He also added:

“I am bound to say that in most cases I suspect John and Jane citizen will find it incredibly dull.”

The Judicial Office introduced stricter rules regulating the use of expert witnesses in family proceedings. Previously, the test for whether evidence from experts would be heard was whether it was “reasonably required”. From today onwards the test is whether it is “necessary”.

Lord Tyler drew attention to the presence of a “Parliamentary Rifle Range”, which apparently exists in the basement of the House of Lords. Hansard records reveal that it was refurbished in 1990 for the use of members of parliament’s Sports and Social Club. Questions Lord Tyler asked on his blog included:

“If this facility costs the taxpayer almost nothing, who runs this outfit?  Who is responsible for the security of the rifles and their ammunition?  Surely selected members are not permitted to wander round the building with them?  Is this not a potential weakness in our otherwise tight security?  And who pays for that security?   I tried phoning the Rifle Range (ext 3350 if you want to know) to get answers to these questions, but it rang without anyone answering.”

This is Grimsby reported that “the quiet dignity of a court session was abruptly disturbed” when someone loudly broke wind in the public gallery. Furthermore, in a seemingly unrelated incident shortly afterwards, the lights in the courtroom went out for a few seconds before flickering back on.