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Eurosceptic media attacks on judges 'undermine law' says Supreme Court president

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John Stillwell  PA Archive
Lord Neuberger and his colleagues at the Supreme Court rejected a Government appeal against the ruling last month

Britain's top judge has spoken out about media attacks on the judiciary and the failure of politicians to stand up for judges after the Brexit court challenge.

But Lord Neuberger said: "If you start making judges say what their political views are, I think that would be retrograde rather than the opposite".

After the government lost the Article 50 case at the High Court, a Daily Mail headline called the three judges in the case "enemies of the people".

Lord Neuberger, who is due to retire later this year, was one of the Supreme Court judges who rejected the Government's appeal in an eight-three majority ruling.

Liz Truss, the Lord Chancellor, was widely accused of failing to speak out more quickly in defence of the judges.

Lord Neuberger did not single out any politicians or newspapers, but told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We were certainly not well treated".

Attacks on judges undermine rule of law and risk fracturing society, Lord Neuberger warned.

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Asked whether politicians responded rapidly enough after the controversial judgment, Lord Neuberger, president of the Supreme Court, said: 'They were certainly vocal enough quickly enough after our hearing.

He said: "After the [High] Court hearing".

It would be "very unfortunate if we had political scrutiny of the appointment of judges in this country", Lord Neuberger said.

He added: "It's easy to be critical after the event. They were faced with an unexpected situation from which like all sensible people they learned".

He said: "Yes, the independence of our judiciary is crucial..."

Granting a rare interview Lord Neuberger said the media had a positive duty "to keep an eye on things" and that was one of the reasons for freedom of expression.

But he added: "One or two I've discovered which way they have voted in the past and I was surprised".

As a body they feel they can not respond to such criticism publicly - judges must after all speak through their judgements alone, and the occasional public lecture.

British justice secretary Liz Truss has praised the president of the United Kingdom supreme court, David Neuberger, after the judge appeared to criticise her for being slow to defend the judiciary from media attacks.

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