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Lib Dems call on local MP to prevent restricting the ability of individuals to seek judicial review of government actions.

August 12, 2020 10:00 AM
By Ellen Nicholson

Ellen Nicholson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for South West Wiltshire, is calling on local Conservative MP Andrew Murrison to "pledge to defend the rule of law against any attempts by Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings to undermine it."

It follows the Conservative Government's announcement on recently of an Independent Review of Administrative Law, with the aim of restricting the ability of individuals to seek judicial review of government actions.

This could prevent people challenging the Government in the courts, as they did when the Ministry of Defence sent soldiers into combat in Iraq without the proper equipment; when excessive Home Office fees denied children their rights as citizens; and when patients died from substandard care at Stafford Hospital. As someone who served in the forces and holds a medical qualification, I am sure that Dr Murrison understands the value of some decisions being challenged by our judicial system.

Ellen Nicholson, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for South West Wiltshire, said:

"With these plans, Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings are trying to enable the Government to run roughshod over people's rights and allow Ministers to break the law with impunity.

"This should be incredibly alarming, no matter your political persuasion. Andrew Murrison must put party politics aside and pledge to defend the rule of law against any attempts by Johnson and Cummings to undermine it."

The Law Gazette has noted that reforms to judicial review were consulted on by the government in 2013, however some of the more controversial changes - including reforming the test for standing for judicial review (said to be an issue on account of campaigning judicial reviews) - were not proceeded with.

Interestingly, there was no mention of a public consultation in last Friday's announcement, however proceeding with the major constitutional change that could result from the review without further consultation would be unwise. It is not hyperbolic to state - as some already have - that a mis-step by the Government here could risk a constitutional crisis.

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/legal-updates/government-announces-independent-review-of-judicial-review/5105287.article

Daisy Cooper, Liberal Democrat Justice Spokesperson, said:

"Threatening to weaken people's ability to challenge the Government because the courts sometimes rule against you is the act of dictators and despots, not democrats.

"Liberal Democrats will always defend individuals' abilities to challenge the Government and uphold their rights. We will not stand by and allow Boris Johnson and Dominic Cummings to undermine the rule of law, which is so fundamental to our society."