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Top UK judge hits back after Brexit uproar over court ruling

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LONDON (Reuters) – The head of Britain’s Supreme Court has accused politicians of not doing enough to protect the independence of the judicial system when judges came in for harsh criticism from pro-Brexit newspapers last year.

England’s High Court triggered an angry response from some newspapers in November when it ruled that the decision to begin Britain’s formal divorce talks with the European Union had to be approved by parliament and not be taken by the government alone.

The Daily Mail newspaper said the three judges who handed down the ruling were “enemies of the people”.

In an interview with the BBC broadcast on Thursday, David Neuberger, the head of Britain’s Supreme Court, said: “I think some of what was said was undermining the rule of law.”

Neuberger said politicians, who he did not name, did not speak out quickly or clearly enough after the criticism.

“After the Court hearing. I think they could have been quicker and clearer,” he said. “But we all learn by experience, whether politicians or judges. It’s easy to be critical after the event. They were faced with an unexpected situation from which like all sensible people they learned.”

Britain’s Justice minister Liz Truss initially made no comment about the media criticism of the High Court judges before issuing a brief statement two days after the ruling, saying the independence of the judiciary was the “foundation upon which our rule of law is built.”

Britain’s government appealed the High Court’s ruling in the Supreme Court which upheld the original decision. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Theresa May won parliamentary approval to start the EU divorce talks which she aims to do before the end of March.



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