Michael Gove had his first outing this week as justice secretary. It was a skilful performance. He has spent time since being appointed visiting crown courts (Southwark and Nottingham) and concluded that the system is archaic and cumbersome, with “snowdrifts of paper”, “indefensible” waste and “grotesque inefffiencies” familiar to Dickens. “Were Mr Tulkinghorn to step from the pages of Bleak House or Mr Jaggers to be transported from the chapters of Great Expectations into a crown court today, they would find little had changed,” he said.

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