The deputy chief justice, Lord Justice Judge, yesterday accused the media of endangering public confidence in the independence of the judiciary by "direct personal attacks" on the lord chief justice, Lord Woolf.

The appeal court judge is the second prominent legal figure to ride to Lord Woolf's defence over attacks on proposals by the sentencing guidelines council, which he chairs, to allow murderers who plead guilty up to a third off their minimum prison term. A fortnight ago the attorney general, Lord Goldsmith, made a plea to newspapers to drop a "campaign of vilification".
Neither named any papers but the Sun launched a campaign in September, just after Lord Woolf unveiled the council's draft guidelines.

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