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Lady Hale speaks out on key Supreme Court Brexit ruling, insisting: “politics didn’t come into it.”

  • “We were all brought up to believe in the sovereignty of Parliament as the fundamental principle of our constitution, not in the sovereignty of the Prime Minister, not in the sovereignty of the government, but in the sovereignty of Parliament.”
  • “It never occurred to me that there would be such a focus on the particular brooch I was wearing.”

The judge who led the Supreme Court in its landmark ruling over the suspension of Parliament has spoken about the “nerve-wracking” day when she ruled that Boris Johnson’s government had acted unlawfully in suspending Parliament.

Lady Hale, who was president of the Supreme Court from 2017 to 2020, says: “Everybody listened to the summary of the judgment, which I delivered in complete silence - apart from when I said: ‘this is the unanimous decision of us all.’ And there was an audible gasp.”

She recounts how she deliberately chose what she would wear that day - “a demure black crepe dress” - but that the spider brooch, which became her hallmark and earned her the nickname Spider Woman - was worn by chance.

In a ground-breaking podcast series, Lady Hale says: “It never occurred to me that there would be such a focus on the particular brooch I was wearing.” If it had, she would have probably “chosen a dragonfly” brooch instead, she says.

On the unanimous ruling by 11 Supreme Court justices that suspending or proroguing Parliament by Boris Johnson’s government was unlawful, she says: “politics didn’t come into it.”

She says she did not have to put pressure on her fellow justices of the Supreme Court to come into line to ensure that the decision was unanimous. “Everyone was working together. We all wanted to get the right result.”

Lady Hale’s comments come in the third episode of a new podcast series, The Judges: Power, Politics and the People, hosted by The University of ϲʿ. The episode is launched on Wednesday November 29.

Lady Hale goes on to express concern that politicians do not understand their duty to maintain a working justice system.

“It is a public service, which is one of the first duties of government, to have a justice system which functions. “

Asked by interviewer Frances Gibb, former Legal Editor of The Times: “Do politicians understand that? “Lady Hale replies: “I think they probably don’t.”

Elsewhere in the wide-ranging interview she talks of being a “speccy swot”; how it felt as the lone woman at the top of judiciary; on relations and disagreements with her colleagues; and about the impact of Brexit on the power of the judiciary.

You can watch the full episode or you can listen to the podcast on The University of ϲʿ channel which is being streamed on all major services including Spotify and Apple.