Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, former President of the Supreme Court, has tabled an amendment to the Crime and Courts Bill in the Lords. The amendment challenges the right of the justice secretary, Chris Grayling, to appoint the Supreme Court’s chief executive. Lord Phillips’ first political intervention since his retirement from the UKSC has been reported as an attempt to ensure a complete separation of powers between the judiciary and the executive arm of government.

Lord Pannick, who tabled the amendment with Lord Phillips, said:

“The noble and learned Lord, Lord Phillips, has asked me to tell your Lordships that in his experience of the first three years of operation of the Supreme Court, the existing appointment provision led more than once to confusion in parts of the government machine that the chief executive should in some sense be acting at the behest of Ministers. The amendment is designed to put it beyond doubt that this is not the case.”

The amendment is backed by the Lords Constitution Committee and is expected to be taken to a vote. The current chief executive of the Supreme Court is Jenny Rowe, who was previously Director of Policy and Administration at the Attorney General’s Office. She has been credited with promoting the openness and transparency of the UKSC.