Lord Chief Justice drops the mic on tabloid journo
Where is the â€˜dividing line is between criticism and abuse', asks Lord Thomas
Considering the numerous attacks aimed at him in the media of late, few would have blamed Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd if he had decided to call off his annual press conference in London last week.
Fortunately for members of the press, the Lord Chief Justice is far from thin skinned and answered a variety of questions put to him from the importance of English and Welsh law post-Brexit, tougher alternatives to prison, the disproportionate impact of sentencing on ethnic minorities, and even the date of his impending retirement.
Asked by the BBC's Clive Coleman to comment on the unprecedented criticism of the judges in recent weeks, Lord Thomas said judicial independence was 'paramount'.
'We are an attractive jurisdiction because everyone knows '¦ we are totally uninfluenced by external events.' Although the head of the judiciary wanted to discuss the matter further he said that it would be very difficult for him to do so 'in the present context'.
'Anything I say in relation to that will be interpreted by one person or by another as some comment on the existing case in relation to article 50 and what people have said about it and I take the very firm view that it is better to wait until this is over.'
Clearly fishing for a story to just that effect, Steve Doughty of the Daily Mail '“ yes, the tabloid that called Lord Thomas an 'enemy of the people' '“ asked the Lord Chief Justice whether there 'should be criticism of judges' in newspapers.
'It depends what you mean by 'criticism',' replied Lord Thomas. 'It depends where the dividing line is between criticism and abuse.'
At this point the Lord Chief Justice dropped his mic and moonwalked off stage.
Okay, the mic drop and moonwalk didn't really happen, but Solicitors Journal wishes it had.