Last Saturday I profiled the new Justice Secretary and Lord Chancellor Liz Truss. Today’s post looks at the rest of the new ministerial team.
Who’s who at the MoJ?
Not only did Theresa May replace Michael Gove with Liz Truss but she moved (both promoted and demoted) all the junior ministers too, apart from Lord Faulks who considered Liz Truss too inexperienced to “stand up to the Prime Minister when necessary, on behalf of the judges” and resigned.
Here’s the new team in full:
Roles and responsibilities
As you can see, Oliver Heald is Minister for Courts and Justice (the previous post holder was Minister for the Courts and Legal Aid); Sam Gyimah is Minister for Prisons and Probation (previously Andrew Selous was Minister for Prisons, Probation and Rehabilitation); Phillip Lee is Minister for Victims, Youth and Family Justice (taking over from Caroline Dinenage who was Minister for Women, Equalities and Family Justice).
Sir Oliver Heald – Courts and Justice
Sir Oliver Heald QC (@OliverHealdMP) practised as a barrister for over 20 years (he honed his public speaking skills at Hyde Park corner) and entered parliament in 1992.
He clearly has a sustained interest in justice and legal affairs and has been a shadow spokesperson on Home Affairs (2000-2001), shadow Justice Secretary (2004-2007) and Solicitor General (2012-2014) before losing out in David Cameron’s last reshuffle before the 2015 general election.
Sir Oliver has sat on a number of different House of Commons committees, although not the Justice Committee. His political interests are listed as: industrial relations, environment, law and order, and pensions.
Since becoming minister, he has supplied a written answer stating that the MoJ will be setting out “our proposals for a Bill of Rights in due course” which makes it appear that he will be Minister for Human Rights.
Sam Gyimah – Prisons and Probation
Sam Gyimah (@samgyimah) worked in banking and as an entrepreneur developing businesses in the training, recruitment and internet sectors before being elected to parliament in 2010. He was a party whip from 2013-14, Secretary to the Cabinet Office from 2014-15 and Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Education from 2014 until moving to the MoJ earlier this month.
He appears to have no previous interest in criminal justice; his political interests are listed as: Business; Innovation and Skills; Treasury; Communities and Local Government; Education; Transport (especially aviation); Higher Education and Minerals.
Phillip Lee – Victims, youth and family justice
Phillip Lee (@DrPhillipLeeMP) is a qualified GP who was elected to parliament in 2010; he continues to work as a GP (for between 15 and 90 hours per month between September 2015 and April 2016, the latest dates for which details are available on the theyworkforyou site), and this is his first ministerial appointment.
Again, there is no obvious previous interest in criminal justice; his political interests are listed as science, energy security policy, space industry and healthcare.
Lord Keen – Advocate General for Scotland and MoJ spokeperson for the Lords
Richard Sanderson Keen has a long-standing involvement in the law having been an advocate (the equivalent of a barrister in England and Wales) in Scotland since 1980. He was chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party in 2014 and was ennobled in June 2015 when he became Advocate General for Scotland. He was the Lords spokesperson for the Home Office from April 2016 until moving to the MoJ this month.
As an advocate he was involved in many high level cases representing Rangers Football Club and Andy Coulson among others.
Overall, this is a young and inexperienced ministerial team (with only Sir Oliver Heald having been at Westminster prior to 2010) under the leadership of a young and inexperienced Justice Secretary.
We will have to wait and see whether this means they can bring a fresh perspective or are vulnerable to being out-manoeuvred by vested interests.