The head of the judiciary has admonished six Tory parliamentarians for seeking to influence a judge overseeing a hearing this week on whether references written in support of the former MP Charlie Elphicke can be made public. The six wrote last week to senior judges, copying in the judge who will oversee the hearing on Wednesday, expressing concern that “matters of principle” should first be considered by senior members of the judiciary and by parliament.
But in a response from the office of the lord chief justice for England and Wales, they were told it was “improper” to seek to influence the decision of a judge who would ultimately rule on the basis of evidence and argument in court. “It is all the more regrettable when representatives of the legislature, writing as such on House of Commons notepaper, seek to influence a judge in a private letter and do so without regard for the separation of powers or the independence of the judiciary,” said the reply from Ben Yallop, the private secretary to the lord chief justice. “It is equally improper to suggest that senior judges should in some way intervene to influence the decision of another judge. The independence of the judges extends to being free from interference by judicial colleagues or superiors in their decision-making. Judges must be free to make their decision independently of pressure or influence from all, including legislators.”