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Last Updated: Saturday, 6 March, 2004, 19:02 GMT
The Constitutional Reform Bill
Concerned: Lord Woolf

BBC Radio 4's Law in Action will be broadcast on Friday, 5 March, 2004 at 1600 GMT.

Lord Woolf, the most senior judge in England and Wales, has spoken out against some of the Government's key legal reforms.

Delivering the Squire Centenary Lecture at the University of Cambridge, the Lord Chief Justice warned of a "loss of confidence in the commitment of the Government to the rule of law."

He argued that if implemented, plans to scrap judicial scrutiny of decisions of the asylum tribunal would tarnish the reputation of the Government.

He also described the measure as being inconsistent with the Constitutional Reform Bill.

Judicial independence

"We cannot take the continued individual or collective independence of the judiciary for granted, Lord Woolf said.

The Bill will establish a new Judicial Appointments Commission, which will make recommendations on appointments to the Secretary of State for Constitutional Affairs.

A supporter of the move, Roger Smith, director of the legal and human rights organisation Justice told Law in Action:

"the formation of a commission will mean a real drive to encourage more women and ethnic minorities into the bottom levels of the judiciary."

Law in Action


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