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Groundbreaking new podcast to launch with Frances Gibb and The University of Law

The Judges: Power, Politics and the People is a landmark new podcast series with the UK’s top judges

Several former Lord Chief Justices will take part in a ground-breaking video podcast series to be launched next week. (October 24).

Hosted by esteemed journalist Frances Gibb in partnership with The University of Law, the series will feature the ten most senior former judges in England and Wales of the last three decades – those who have reached the apex of the justice system. Each guest will give their verdicts on the politics, power shifts and prospects for the legal system.

Across ten interviews conducted by Frances Gibb, former legal editor of The Times, the series will ask: who are the men and women who reached the pivotal positions at the top of the justice system? What do they feel about their time in office – their key decisions and dealings with ministers?   

The judges candidly reflect on their careers and motivations, commenting on the changing balance of power between the judiciary and the executive in recent years, and on points of tension between judges and ministers.  

Each episode sees discussion on the changing public perceptions of the judiciary in a post-Brexit era, with judges talking openly about the challenges, high points and regrets relating to their own time in office, as well as looking to the future. 

The series will feature the former Lord Chief Justices Lord Woolf, Lord Phillips of Worth Matravers, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, Lord Judge, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd and Lord Burnett of Maldon. 

It will also include Lord Mackay of Clashfern, who as Lord Chancellor before the constitutional changes of 2005 headed the judiciary and sat as a law lord; Baroness Hale of Richmond, the first woman to head the UK Supreme Court; Baroness Butler-Sloss, the first woman to head a division of the High Court; and Lord Sumption, a former member of the UK Supreme Court. 

Frances Gibb said: “Judges hold the critical balance of power as the third limb of the constitution alongside the government and Parliament.   

“They have been propelled into an increasingly prominent (some say political) role, since the creation of the UK Supreme Court and the introduction of the Human Rights Act in 2000.  

“As a result, they have found themselves determining where the law should be drawn when ministers push at constitutional boundaries. 

“In recent years judges have been more visible to the public and accessible to the media through cameras in courts, interviews and press conferences. But relatively little is still known about the people who make many of the key decisions in framing our laws.  

“This series will cast light on the men and women who act as critical power brokers in our constitution.” 

Lord Grabiner KC, President of The University of Law, added:

“This is set to be a revolutionary series in the legal world. Many of the interviewees have been at the forefront of pivotal moments in the UK’s history, and this podcast provides an opportunity for them to talk candidly about those times – perhaps for the first time in some cases.

“For those working in or simply interested in the world of law, Frances’ expertly crafted interviews pull back the curtain on an area of our industry that has remained relatively hidden from the public eye. For established and potential legal professionals alike, this isn’t a series to be missed.” 

The series will launch on Tuesday October 24 featuring an interview with Lord Woolf. You can see the promotional trailer here.


Lord Woolf: 

*”I always wanted to be a success as a judge…I wouldn’t have been interested in the job if I wasn’t a success.”

*On the sentencing of the two boys convicted of the murder of James Bulger: “People can reform. I believe there may be some who are so distorted in their view that they never can be released safely but you could not say that of these two young men, Thompson and Venables.”

*Gibb: “The last administration under Boris Johnson has been criticised for showing a flagrant disregard for the rule of law. Would you agree?“ Woolf: “I would.” : “That’s damaging, isn’t it, for the justice system as an arm of the constitution?” Woolf: “Yes.”

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