In the Media

Ken Clarke is a good fit for the Ministry of Justice

PUBLISHED May 13, 2010

Ken Clarke is a good fit for the Ministry fo Justice
Nobody expected Ken Clarke to become lord chancellor and secretary of state for justice. In opposition, the brief had been held by Dominic Grieve, who has been given the consolation prize ? or poisoned chalice ? of attorney general.

Before the election, Clarke looked a safer bet for the posts of chief secretary to the Treasury or business secretary ? positions that have now gone to Liberal Democrats. His claim, on leaving Downing Street, that he had no idea what post he was going to be offered has the ring of truth to it.

But as soon as you look at his background, you can see what a good fit he is likely to be for the Ministry of Justice.

The lord chancellor's most important constitutional role these days is to get on well with the judges. He and the lord chief justice, Lord Judge, must work together in many areas while maintaining a proper distance.

What the judiciary have feared since 2003, when the lord chancellor ceased to be their head, was that the post would go to some callow but ambitious MP.

At least to begin with, they were happy enough with Lord Falconer, who had been a leading QC until he joined the government.

And they were pleasantly surprised when Falconer was followed by Jack Straw, who still seemed to maintain some of the deference he must have felt when addressing the bench as a junior barrister.

Clarke is a lawyer, too, with a graduate degree from Cambridge. He was an MP at 30 and a QC at 40.