We all have bad weeks.
But it has been a particularly bad one for the first non lawyer Lord Chancellor for over 400 years.
Was it only two months ago that he was proclaiming that it was a good thing that he was not a lawyer
Last night, I actually missed part of Liverpool FC’s exit from the Champions League to witness the mauling which the House of Lords gave to Mr Grayling's proposals to restrict the right to bring Judicial Review proceedings. A key proposal would remove the power of judges to decide whether to hear such applications. In effect the right to bring proceedings against the Government will be controlled by the Government. This was roundly rejected by the Lords. Those opposing the move included a number of Tory and Lib Dem peers –
Grayling's advocate in the House, Lord Faulks QC, was increasingly ineffective in the face of relentless attacks, particularly from the masterful crossbencher, Lord Pannick. It doesn't matter how eminent a barrister you are, defending the indefensible is always a thankless task.
Further misery was heaped on Mr Grayling as he was forced to admit that he misled Parliament over the proposals. He had suggested that there was to be an exception to the rules barring applications whereby the court would retain discretion in certain circumstances. He wrote to Conservative MP, Geoffrey Cox, to confirm that he had ‘inadvertently’ said that this was the case when it fact it was not. So he was either misleading the House deliberately or had no idea what was in his Bill –
While we are on the subject of Judicial Review! Mr Grayling was told by the High Court this week that his appalling plans to ban books for prisoners was unlawful –
It is no wonder that he remains so anxious to abolish the right to subject the Government to review by the courts. Could he be trying to avoid the honour (ahem) of being the most judicially reviewed Minister in history?
All of this makes you wonder whether Cameron’s experiment in placing a career politician at the head of the legal system was such a good idea after all.