London (AFP) – The president of Britain’s Supreme Court on Thursday slammed media attacks on judges after a legal challenge to Brexit, and criticised politicians for not rushing to their defence more quickly.
David Neuberger, who presides over Britain’s final court of appeal, said judges “were certainly not well treated”.
“I think some of what was said was undermining the rule of law,” Neuberger told BBC radio.
“The rule of law together with democracy is one of the two pillars on which our society is based,” he added.
In November, three High Court judges were criticised for ruling against the government in a case over Article 50, the process that triggers Britain’s divorce from the European Union.
The ruling determined that the British government could not launch Article 50 without prior parliamentary approval.
The decision enraged Brexit supporters and some newspapers who accused judges of thwarting the will of the 52 percent who voted “Leave” in the June 23 referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
The Daily Mail, Britain’s second-biggest-selling newspaper, led the charge against judges, blasting them as “enemies of the people” on its front page.
“The judges versus the people” was the lead story on the top-selling broadsheet, The Daily Telegraph.
For Neuberger, politicians “should have been quicker and clearer” when condemning the attacks on the judiciary following the High Court ruling.
But he then praised them for being “vocal enough quickly enough” after the higher Supreme Court hearing in which the government lost its appeal.
“It’s easy to be critical after the event. They were faced with an unexpected situation from which, like all sensible people, they learned,” he said.
Neuberger made the comments as he prepares to retire in September and on the day the Supreme Court begins taking applications for two new judges.