. . . is how some are choosing to report the lecture Judicial Independence & Accountability: A View from the Supreme Court, delivered yesterday by Lord Phillips  at the UCL Constitution Unit’s launch of research project on The Politics of Judicial Independence.
The headlines were based on comments that Philips made, explaining that “our present funding arrangements do not satisfactorily guarantee our institutional independence. We are, in reality, dependant each year upon what we can persuade the Ministry of Justice of England and Wales to give us by way of ‘contribution’. This is not a satisfactory situation for the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom. It is already leading to a tendency on the part of the Ministry of Justice to try to gain the Supreme Court as an outlying part of its empire.”

The position and appointment of the Court’s Chief Executive is part of the problem:

“I consider that it is critical to our independence that the chief executive owes her primary loyalty to me and not to the Minister. I know that Jenny Rowe shares my view. My impression is that there are those within the Ministry who do not appreciate this.”

However, these aspects of the speech are not what the Court chose to highlight in its press release.

Responding to recent political criticism of “unelected judges”, Phillips says such statements “evidence a failure to understand the role of the judiciary”. He distinguishes between two aspects of accountability: the appellate structure and the fact that Parliament can pass legislation that overturns the Court’s decisions; and that the administration of the Court, the “judge who misconducts himself” and the statutory disciplinary procedure.