Misjudgment

It’s all too easy — and a hostage to fortune — to criticise rival reporters for making basic errors in legal terminology. But you would have thought that most news organisations would have known who the Lord Chief Justice is by now.

He has been Lord Judge for nearly a year. But not to the BBC and the Times, where he is still Sir Igor.

The mistake was made originally by PA, the national news agency, which supplied the story that appeared on the BBC and Times websites. But the Daily Mail managed to get it right — at least in its story, if not in the picture caption.

And this is no arcane matter of terminology. In his speech at the Lord Mayor’s dinner on Tuesday night, Lord Judge went out of his way to point out that, from October 1, he will no longer be allowed to speak in the House of Lords.

He will be gagged by section 137 of the Constitutional Reform Act 2005, which says that “a member of the House of Lords is, while he holds any disqualifying judicial office, disqualified for sitting or voting in the House” (note the archaic preposition).

Jack Straw, the Lord Chancellor, seemed surprised when this was pointed out to him on Tuesday. It was Mr Straw who recommended Lord Judge for the peerage that he will soon no longer be able to use.

That said, Lord Judge can can still visit the Lords restaurant and sit on the cushioned steps of the Throne. And, my colleagues should note, he keeps his title.

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