The Judiciary and the Media – by the Lord Chief Justice of England & Wales
The Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Judge, has been talking about The Judiciary and the Media. He says:
My overwhelming belief is that the most emphatic feature of the relationship between the judiciary and the media is that the independence of the judiciary and the independence of the media are both fundamental to the continued exercise, and indeed the survival of the liberties which we sometimes take for granted.
Oh, how right he is!
As far as I can discover, there never has been, and there is no community in the world in which an independent press flourishes while the judiciary is subservient to the executive or government, or where an independent judiciary is allowed to perform its true constitutional function while, at the same time, the press is fettered by the executive.
Oh, how misleading this is!
To a large extent this speech is about how new technology is affecting the media, and how that is affecting justice through the courts. It’s interesting but misleading: misleading because it is entirely predicated on two false assumptions. Firstly that we have in independent judiciary. And secondly that we have an independent press.
It’s true that neither are hamstrung by excessive legal restrictions. In that sense they are both independent. But legal restriction is not the traditional (traditional in the conservative – with both a big and little ‘c’) way we do things in Britain. The socialist way is to impose laws against everything. The conservative way – and Britain is a conservative country by nature – is to manipulate.
Both the media and the judiciary are under the control of the executive in the good old-fashioned British way: patronage, favour and bullying.
The future of freedom is no longer dependent upon the independence and freedom of the judiciary and the press – those are both long gone. The future of freedom is dependent upon the independence and freedom of the internet; the home of the individual blogger, tweeter and rebel not yet swayed by patronage and bullying.
That is why governments around the world seek to control the internet. Not because of terrorism and pedophiles and organised crime; but because it weakens executive control over the people. And that is why we must fight for net neutrality and keep it out of the hands of the executive and government lackeys.
The Judiciary and the Media
Speech by Lord Judge, Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales