The UK’s All-Party Parliamentary Group on Democracy and the Constitution (APPGDC) released a report Wednesday, condemning UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson for “attacks” on judges and the judiciary as a whole. The APPGDC reviewed UK Supreme Court decisions, heard testimony from lawyers and judges, and reviewed public statements from Johnson and other member of his government.
The report goes on to accuse Johnson and his ministers of undermining faith in the judiciary, stating:
While ministers are, like anyone, entitled to their freedom of speech, the offices they hold come with responsibilities. These include comporting themselves in a constitutionally proper manner. It is not helpful for ministers to attack the integrity or competence of judges or to suggest that the executive has expertise or constitutional competence that it does not possess.
The report specifically cites statements like Tory MP Geoffrey Cox’s, who was Attorney General at the time of the statements, saying “[the Supreme Court] effectively invented or created a new legal principle which hitherto had been a political convention…” in regards to a 2019 Supreme Court decision. The report also cited alleged statements through a government source saying Johnson “wants to get the judges sorted.”
The report concludes by saying:
The relatively high number of instances since 2020 in which the Supreme Court has departed from its previous decisions and adopted new positions which appear to fall closer into line with the executive’s political preferences may be coincidental or explained by a variety of factors….however, it creates the troubling appearance (even if it is only an appearance) of the politicisation of the judiciary.
Johnson has yet to respond to the report, however, the legal counsel for the APPGDC, Sam Fowles, claims that Johnson’s Ministry of Justice refused to cooperate.