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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 October 2005, 12:33 GMT 13:33 UK
Top judge warns off politicians
Lord Phillips, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales
Lord Phillips said judges were 'in conflict with no-one'
The top judge in England and Wales has warned politicians not to interfere with the judiciary or browbeat judges.

Lord Phillips said he was taking up the post of Lord Chief Justice at a time when there was a perception that judges were in conflict with the government.

They were not, he said, but stressed it was "wholly inappropriate" for a politician to try to pressure judges.

He also played down ministers' calls for judges to take more account of national security in deportation cases.

Lord Phillips also told reporters at the Royal Courts of Justice in London he would be steering clear of politics.

'Clearly defined role'

He said: "Occasionally one does feel that an individual politician is trying to browbeat the judiciary, and for such an individual I would say that browbeating is wholly inappropriate.

"We're all trying to do our jobs to the best of our abilities."

"I'm taking up this office at a time when it's said in various quarters that judges are in conflict with government. They are not. Judges are in conflict with no-one," Lord Phillips said.

"The judiciary has a clearly defined role, which is to apply the law as laid down by parliament."

Lord Phillips said judges would not approach their task any differently in the light of Home Secretary Charles Clarke's call for them to balance human rights against state security when deciding deportation cases.

Lord chancellor Lord Falconer said this summer he was considering new laws forcing judges to take more account of national security when deciding whether to deport terror suspects.

Complex trials

Lord Phillips said the task of a judge when considering whether an order for deportation had been properly made was constrained by statute, in particular the Human Rights Act.

The government this week got the go-ahead to challenge the European human rights law preventing terror suspects being deported to countries with poor human rights records.

Some senior lawyers have also warned Home Secretary Charles Clarke's plans to allow hold terror suspects to be held for up to 90 days without charge could fall foul of human rights legislation.

Lord Phillips took over from Lord Woolf as Lord Chief Justice on 1 October this year.

He was called to the bar in 1962, took silk in 1978 and became a Recorder in 1982.

Cycling

In 1987 he became a High Court judge and later an appeal court judge in 1995. In 1999 be became a Lord of Appeal and the following year was made Master of the Rolls - in charge of the civil division of the court of appeal.

As an appeal court judge, Lord Phillips presided over long and complex trials including that of the Maxwell brothers and the case of investment company Barlow Clowes.

He was made a Law Lord in January 1999 and is also well-known for cycling to and from court.




SEE ALSO:
Judges face human rights shake-up
12 Aug 05 |  UK Politics


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