An article by the late Sir Henry Brooke, the former UK appeals judge, sets out what the role of Attorney General (AG) is about. His (short) article, from a forgotten age of scholarship and principle, is worth reading, at this <link>.
The current UK AG, Suella Braverman QC MP, should perhaps read it, as her actions and pronouncements are largely inconsistent with it. Appearing before the UK’s House of Commons justice select committee yesterday, Braverman said the tagline at the Attorney General’s Office is ‘making law and politics work together’. (I’ll return to that nonsense tagline later.) Braverman went on to say that she was unaware of any lawyers having concerns about her recent conduct and utterances.
Brooke notes that, as far back as the 1980s, senior lawyers were concerned that: “the Westland Affair showed that at heart what a modern administration really wanted was “tame ‘in-house’ legal advisers, creatures of the government more in the style of the retained family or company solicitor than of independent officers of the Crown.”
Unfortunately, that pretty much presciently sums up Braverman’s function in Mr. Johnson’s Cabinet.
And Brooke notes, drily, that “The tradition of appointing experienced advocates to the office of Attorney General seems … at an end.”
Braverman said she was not aware of any lawyers’ concerns. OK, here’s one – in relation to one of Ms. Braverman’s opinions (in relation to JR), here is the devastating opinion of Mark Elliott, Professor of Public Law at the University of Cambridge:
Prof. Elliott, concludes that her arguments “make no sense” and that she is “mixed up“.
Check it out.
Here’s another experienced corporate lawyer – who considers she should resign – <link>:
Braverman’s reliance on a stupid tagline is revealing. She states that the tagline at the Attorney General’s Office is ‘making law and politics work together’, as if this was some kind of cardinal rule that any AG should abide by.
She could hardly be any more wrong. Whisper it – “the rule of law” – remember that silly old thing that we used to take seriously? The rule of law requires precisely the opposite behaviour – it’s about ensuring that politics are conducted at all times subject to the rule of law. That is, the rule of law takes priority over politics. They are not to be given equal billing. Law should not make compromises to suit political whims. Braverman’s de facto role is not that of AG in any meaningful sense, but rather to act as a legal window dresser for Mr. Johnson’s Brexit government, in which role she concocts makeweight public apologias for subordinating the rule of law to the grubbiness of this current government’s self-interested and crony-ist politics.
Remarkably, she seems blithely unaware of the jurisprudential contortions on which her career rests.