The government last night saw off an attempt to jettison plans for a supreme court after England's top judge - a former arch-critic - rallied peers to back the reforms.

Lord Woolf, the lord chief justice, told the House of Lords they should take advantage of the government's willingness to pay the £45m cost of a separate institution - and that half of all law lords were unhappy with their current dual roles.
Lord Woolf's intervention, which saw the government survive two attempts to throw out or amend the reform, came despite his warning earlier this year that a supreme court would be a recipe for "second class justice" and would be a "poor relation" among other supreme courts.

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