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June 02, 2009

Law lords to stay

The Queen has agreed that all justices of the Supreme Court may be referred to as “Lord” or “Lady”, even though those to be appointed from now onwards will not be given peerages.

The decision, which has not yet been announced, is a sensible solution that I have urged for some years. “Justice of the Supreme Court Sumption” is too much of a mouthful. “Justice Sumption” would demote him to below the rank of a High Court judge. “Sir Jonathan Sumption” — the title he could put on his cheque-books — would make him seem inferior to his fellow judges.

As a result of decision, we shall continue to refer to members of the Supreme Court as “law lords”. It will be as if nothing had ever changed.

Meanwhile, the last member of the new court to receive a peerage has maintained the great tradition of choosing a funny name. Having been plain old “Tony Clarke” all his life, Sir Anthony Clarke, who remains Master of the Rolls until the autumn, was introduced into the House of Lords yesterday as Lord Clarke of Stone-cum-Ebony.

In case you wondered, Stone-cum-Ebony is a parish in Ashford, Kent, south-east of Tenterden. The parish is scattered over a wide area but is situated mostly in the Isle of Oxney between Wittersham and Appledore. Stone is a village and Ebony is a hamlet.

So now you know.

Posted at June 2, 2009 08:58 AM