Chris Grayling has replaced Ken Clarke as Lord Chancellor in the Prime Minister’s Cabinet reshuffle this month. He is believed to be the first non-lawyer to hold the ancient title of Lord Chancellor. Dominic Grieve retained his position of Attorney General in the reshuffle. Edward Garnier QC was replaced in the post of Solicitor General by Oliver Heald, who was a practising barrister for more than 20 years. Heald was elected as an MP in 1992 and previously served as a Minister in the Department of Social Security in John Major’s government.
Jonathan Djanogly and Crispin Blunt leave the Ministry of Justice and return to the back benches.
Helen Grant, who took Ann Widdecombe’s former seat in the 2010 election and has served on the Justice Select Committee, has been appointed as joint Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) and for Women’s and Equality issues.
She is joined by criminal barrister Jeremy Wright, of No 5 Chambers, who becomes Parliamentary Under Secretary of State. He was elected to Parliament in 2005, and became a Government Whip in 2010, holding office as a junior Lord Commissioner of the Treasury. Damian Green has been appointed as joint Minister of State at the MoJ and the Home Office. Lord McNally continues in his post as a Minister at the MoJ. The Bar Council has called on the new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor to prioritise access to justice as he makes budgetary decisions. Maura McGowan QC, the Bar’s vice-chairman, said: “The Ministry of Justice is facing substantial challenges not least the implementation of the Legal Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Act.
“This measure will reduce effective access to justice for many vulnerable individuals. Cuts in the MoJ’s budget for the administration of justice come at a time when the prison population remains very high, placing further strains on the Ministry’s depleted resources.
“The new Justice Secretary should signal his intention to give access to justice his priority. Whatever challenges the Ministry faces, it has a fundamental obligation to ensure that everybody is able to access justice, regardless of their means. Mr Grayling must resist adding to the already punitive cuts which the last government and Coalition Government have presided over.”