Who’s who at the MoJ? (Updated 1 November 2022)
This is my fourth update of the MoJ ministerial team this year which is an indicator of the level of disruption at Petty France and probably the most bizarre so far. Brandon Lewis served as Justice Secretary for just 51 days before being replaced by his immediate predecessor Dominic Raab.
I can imagine the politic benefits for the new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of returning Mr Raab to his post as Deputy Prime Minister and Lord Chancellor & Secretary of State for Justice. But many people working in the prisons and probation arena have voiced concerns. Many are anxious to see whether Mr Raab will pick up the reins of his much criticised moves to bring the parole process under political control. But perhaps the most interesting part of this move (an un-shuffle?) is that many of those much closer to the day to day operations of the MoJ than myself remarked regularly on Mr Raab’s general lack of interest in his portfolio, certainly during the last few months of his tenure. We shall have to wait and see whether his couple of months off have whetted his appetite again.
Mr Lewis did resolve the Barristers’ Strike during his seven weeks in office but, this apart, Mr Raab’s in-tray at Petty France will look pretty familiar:
- The Court backlog
- Prison staffing crisis
- Probation staffing crisis
- Probation performance
- Prisons still in semi-lockdown
- The potential impact of COVID on prisons this winter
Along with the return of Mr Raab, there are two new Ministers – Edward Argar (who was previously at the MoJ in 2018/19) and Damian Hinds. Here are my traditional short profiles of the Ministers with their roles and responsibilities.
Dominic Raab – Justice Secretary
Mr Raab went to Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, and studied law at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and for a Masters at Cambridge, winning the Clive Parry Prize for International Law. He started his career as a business lawyer at City law firm Linklaters, working on project finance, international litigation and competition law. He also spent time on secondments at Liberty (the human rights NGO) and in Brussels advising on EU and WTO law.
Mr Raab later worked at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office between 2000 and 2006 on a range of issues from investor protection to war crimes policy.
He was first elected as Member of Parliament for Conservative MP for Esher and Walton in May 2010. Mr Raab has had a number of ministerial jobs in addition to his previous time as Justice Secretary between September 2021 and September 2002:
Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union from July to November 2018.
Minister of State for Housing at the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government from 9 January 2018 to 9 July 2018.
Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice from 12 June 2017 to 9 January 2018.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Human Rights) at the Ministry of Justice from 2015 to 2016.
His responsibilities at the MoJ are:
- Oversight of all portfolios and Ministry of Justice strategy
- Oversight of departmental contribution to growth agenda
- Oversight of international business
- MoJ support for the Union
- Resourcing of the department
- Functions of the Lord Chancellor
- Judicial policy including pay, pensions and diversity (these and other operational decisions affecting the judiciary are reserved to the Lord Chancellor)
Edward Argar – Minister of State
Born in 1977, and originally from Kent, Mr Argar attended his local state grammar school before studying for a history degree at Oriel College, Oxford. Both his parents were teachers, his mother originally from a farming family and his father from an army family.
After university he moved to London and spent four years working as a Political Adviser to the then Shadow Foreign Secretary focusing on Middle East policy and travelling extensively in the region. After that, he spent almost a decade working for private sector businesses including Hedra, Serco and Mouchel in management consultancy and communications jobs
Mr Argar has been the MP for Charnwood since 2015.
He was Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care between 10 September 2019 and 6 July 2022. He was previously Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice between 14 June 2018 and 10 September 2019. This is his third different Ministerial job since 6 September this year!
The minister is responsible for:
Victims and Courts
- Victims and Witnesses
- Rape and Serious Sexual Offences (RASSO)
- Violence against Women and Girls (VAWG)
- Foreign National Offenders
- Miscarriages of Justice
- Statutory Instruments (SIs)
- Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA)
Damian Hinds – Minister of State
Mr Hinds Damian’s degree is in politics, philosophy and economics. Before Parliament, he spent 18 years working in the pubs/brewing and hotel industries, in Britain and abroad. Damian lives between Alton and Petersfield with his wife Jacqui and their three children. He has been the MP for East Hampshire since 2010.
In 2015 he was appointed Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, a role which he held until being appointed Minister for Employment in June 2016. Mr Hinds was appointed Secretary of State for Education in January 2018, a position he held for 18 months. Most recently Mr Hinds served as Security Minister at the Home Office from August 2021 to July 2022.
The minister is responsible for:
Prisons, Parole and Probation
- Prison operations, policy, reform and industrial relations
- Probation policy and operations
- Youth justice
- Offender health
- Offender Cohorts
- Home Detention Curfew (HDC)
- Release on Temporary Licence (ROTL) schemes
- Electronic monitoring
- Reducing reoffending
Mike Freer – Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Mr Freer spent most of his career in retail banking for Barclays Bank plc as well as some time with Deloitte & Touche as a management consultant before becoming MP for Finchley and Golders Green in 2010. He was appointed to the Government Whips Office in 2017 and became Minister for Exports at the Department for International Trade, alongside a role as Minister for Equalities in 2021 – holding both roles until July 2022.
He is responsible for:
- Promotion of legal services
- Crown Dependencies
- Lead on cross-cutting CJS issues
- Criminal law and Criminal court recovery (including legal aid)
- HMCTS administration including fees
- Court and Tribunal reform programme delivery
- Court and Tribunal transparency
- Commons shadow for Lord Bellamy
- Office of the Public Guardian (OPG)
- Mental capacity
- Coroners and death management
- Racial disparity
- Cross cutting corporate decisions
Lord Christopher Bellamy QC, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State
Sir Christopher Bellamy is a barrister who originally specialised in European, competition and regulatory law, and became a QC in 1986. In 1992 he was appointed as a judge to (what is now) the General Court of the European Union where he served for seven years. At the end of 1999 he returned to the UK to set up (what is now) the Competition Appeal Tribunal (CAT), of which he was President until 2007. In 2007 Sir Christopher retired from the CAT and became a senior consultant with Linklaters LLP, and Chairman of the Linklaters Global Competition Practice in 2011. He stepped down from Linklaters at the end of October 2020, and rejoined Monckton Chambers.
His responsibilities are:
- MoJ business in the House of Lords (excluding Criminal Legal Aid)
- Modern Justice System: Legal Support; Dispute Resolution and Lawtech and emerging technologies
- Human Rights
- Judicial Review
- Judicial Policy
- Civil Justice
- Tribunals Policy
- Court Recovery – Civil, Family, Tribunal
- Legal Aid – Civil, Family, Tribunal
- Legal Services
- Devolution and the Union
- Family Justice and Marriage and Divorce
- EU Retained Law policy