Judges and Inquiries: do the public trust them?

Now that Dame Butler Sloss has taken the sensible view that she cannot chair the forthcoming Inquiry into child abuse, the debate has turned to who can chair. As we don’t know rather crucial things like what the terms of reference of the Inquiry are, then it’s rather difficult to speculate. Mark Elliot does a very nice job of pointing out some reasons why judges might be good or bad people to do it. A lot depends on what the Inquiry is asked to do.  I’m not nailing my colours to the mast one way or the other, but I don’t think we should assume that the public don’t trust judges to lead this. One of the reasons is that public trust in the judiciary is very high along with doctors, teachers and scientists.  Over 80% of the public trust these groups to tell the truth.  That’s not the same as saying a judge led inquiry on these matters has the same level of support or that doctors or teachers should be involved just because trust in them is high (though I am sure excellent Doctor or teacher candidates could be found).  

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About Richard Moorhead

Director of the Centre for Ethics and Law and Professor of Law and Professional Ethics at the Faculty of Laws, University College London with an interest in teaching and research on the legal ethics, the professions, legal aid, access to justice and the courts.
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One Response to Judges and Inquiries: do the public trust them?

  1. Greg72 says:

    Just a point – the lady in question is Baroness Butler-Sloss. Before receiving her peerage she was Dame Elizabeth Butler-Sloss. As I’m sure you know, Dames (and Knights) are referred to by Dame/Sir [first name] [last name], and NOT Dame/Sir [last name]. I hope you don’t mind me pointing this out – I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate being incorrectly referred to! 🙂

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