image of Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling

Justice Secretary & Lord Chancellor Chris Grayling

Former BBC producer and current Secretary of State for Justice Chris Grayling MP is the first non-lawyer to serve as Lord Chancellor since the earl of Shaftesbury in 1672-3.

His lack of legal training could explain lots: he’s been brought in to do a hatchet job on the justice and legal system; some of the changes he’s planning to implement would never be contemplated for an instant by lawyers.

Whilst in opposition, Grayling became known as a national politician through his “attack dog” pressure on leading Labour politicians.

It would appear that Grayling is still on the attack if an interview in the Law Society Gazette earlier this week is examined.

Grayling seems completely unworried about removing the right of the accused to pick an advocate of his/her choice under the criminal legal system. Indeed, he’s positively contemptuous of those that end up in the dock!

‘I don’t believe that most people who find themselves in our criminal justice system are great connoisseurs of legal skills. We know the people in our prisons and who come into our courts often come from the most difficult and challenged backgrounds.

Yes, you did read that correctly. If you need to rely on legal representation funded by criminal legal aid, Grayling thinks you’re too thick to pick your own lawyer, so why not let the state pick one for you. Furthermore, by lumping together people who find themselves in the criminal justice system with those in prison, Grayling arrogantly seems to be equating being in the dock automatically with being guilty. What happened to the presumption of innocence, Mr Grayling?

However, Grayling’s contempt and abuse is not confined solely to those unfortunates in the dock. Several times in the interview he refers to the provision of legal services as an ‘industry’.

When I did economics 4 decades ago, the economy consisted of 3 sectors: primary (e.g. agriculture, mining), secondary (e.g. manufacturing, industry) and tertiary (e.g banking, insurance, legal services).

By referring to the ‘legal services industry’ Grayling has moved legal services from the tertiary to the secondary sector. In so doing he has reduced the role of the skilled legal professional to that of a mere machine operative and that of their clients to the widgets that the machine produces. Grayling is thus guilty of treating people as objects, which is not just a retrograde step for justice, but for British society as a whole.