Duncan Lewis

Family Law

know matters can be both

highly sensitive and confusing

The Prime Minister’s office needs a legal adviser to help the Prime Minister in legal issues which crop up in short notices a former legal adviser at the Foreign Office say

Date: (5 June 2012)    |    

Total Comments: (0)    |    Add Comments

Sir Daniel Bethlehem QC a former legal adviser at the Foreign Office who was the first senior lawyer appointed to the Foreign Office from outside the government legal service in 2006 has said that the legal issues at the heart of the Government were not being addressed effectively as they should have been. He said that the Prime Minister was not having a legal advisor in his immediate circle of advisers.
Sir Daniel who is now in private practice spoke to Radio 4. He said that he was surprised that the Prime Minister’s office was not having any legal adviser to handle legal issues which could crop up at a short notice.
He said it would be a valuable addition to the Prime Minister to have a lawyer in his team who could point out on legal issues when and where it crops up.
Sir Daniel points out that Prime Ministers often have advisers in other areas of expertise, such as economics, science and foreign policy.
He added that when it came to the issue of law the whole government machinery was failing to address as well as it might at the heart of the government though at departmental levels it was doing rather well. It was not being addressed properly when it came to Number Ten and in the National Security Council.
The Prime Minister chairs the National Security Council which includes other senior members of the cabinet, the Chief of the Defence Staff and heads of the intelligence agencies attend when required
Sir Daniel's call for a lawyer in Number Ten was not shared by others in the government legal service, who point out that the Attorney General was on hand to advise the Prime Minister as necessary.
However, the Attorney General is not a member of the National Security Council.
Legal advice is also available to Downing Street from the legal advisers working for departmental ministers. Those lawyers might fear being by-passed if the Prime Minister had a legal adviser of his own. On the other hand, their advice might be given greater weight in Downing Street if it was endorsed by an official from within the Prime Minister's trusted inner circle.
Sir Daniel declined to comment directly on the government's recently published Justice and Security Bill, which aims to ensure that ministers will no longer have to disclose security and intelligence material to claimants in court.