‘There is a scene in “Yes Minister” in which the beleaguered Jim Hacker is contemplating a public inquiry into the latest failing of his department. He warily suggests to his Permanent Secretary, Sir Humphrey Appleby, that perhaps the judge chairing the inquiry could be leant on to come up with a favourable outcome. Sir Humphrey is outraged at this violation of the separation of powers. Surely the Minister wasn’t serious? After all, wouldn’t it be better to appoint a judge who didn’t need to be leant on in the first place?
Jim Duffy’s recent post on the Contaminated Blood Inquiry – and the importance of an inquiry being independent and being seen to be independent – brought this encounter to mind. The ever more frequent calls for a “judge-led inquiry” must be a source of both pride and concern to the judiciary. Pride as “judge-led” is a synonym for a forensic, thorough and above all independent tribunal to assess the matter in question. We will come to the concern later.
UK Human Rights Blog, 9th November 2017