The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales is a court in London and one of a number of buildings housing the Crown Court. Part of the present building stands on the site of the medieval Newgate gaol, on a road named Old Bailey that follows the line of the City of London's fortified wall, which runs from Ludgate Hill to the junction of Newgate Street and Holborn Viaduct; the Old Bailey has been housed in several structures near this location since the sixteenth century, its present building dates from 1902. The Crown Court sitting at the Central Criminal Court deals with major criminal cases from within Greater London and in exceptional cases, from other parts of England and Wales. Trials at the Old Bailey, as at other courts, are open to the public; the court originated as the sessions house of the Lord Mayor and Sheriffs of the City of London and of Middlesex. The original medieval court was first mentioned in 1585, it was destroyed in the Great Fire of London in 1666 and rebuilt in 1674, with the court open to the weather to prevent the spread of disease.
In 1734, it was refronted, enclosing the court and reducing the influence of spectators: this led to outbreaks of typhus, notably in 1750 when 60 people died, including the Lord Mayor and two judges. It was rebuilt again in 1774 and a second courtroom was added in 1824. Over 100,000 criminal trials were carried out at the Old Bailey between 1674 and 1834. In 1834, it was renamed as the Central Criminal Court and its jurisdiction extended beyond that of London and Middlesex to the whole of the English jurisdiction for trials of major cases, her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service manages the courts and administers the trials but the building itself is owned by the City of London Corporation, which finances the building, the running of it, the staff and the maintenance out of their own resources. The court was intended as the site where only criminals accused of crimes committed in the City and Middlesex were tried. However, in 1856, there was public revulsion at the accusations against the doctor William Palmer that he was a poisoner and murderer.
This led to fears. The Central Criminal Court Act 1856 was passed to enable his trial to be held at the Old Bailey. In the 19th century, the Old Bailey was a courtroom adjacent to Newgate Prison. Hangings were a public spectacle in the street outside until May 1868; the condemned would be led along Dead Man's Walk between the prison and the court, many were buried in the walk itself. Large, riotous crowds would gather and pelt the condemned with rotten fruit and vegetables and stones. In 1807, 28 people were crushed to death. A secret tunnel was subsequently created between the prison and St Sepulchre's church opposite, to allow the chaplain to minister to the condemned man without having to force his way through the crowds; the present Old Bailey building dates from 1902 but it was opened on 27 February 1907. It was designed by E. W. Mountford and built on the site of the infamous Newgate Prison, demolished to allow the court buildings to be constructed. Above the main entrance is inscribed the admonition: "Defend the Children of the Poor & Punish the Wrongdoer".
King Edward VII opened the courthouse. On the dome above the court stands a bronze statue of Lady Justice, executed by the British sculptor F. W. Pomeroy, she holds the scales of justice in her left. The statue is popularly supposed to show blind Justice, the figure is not blindfolded: the courthouse brochures explain that this is because Lady Justice was not blindfolded, because her "maidenly form" is supposed to guarantee her impartiality which renders the blindfold redundant. During the Blitz of World War II, the Old Bailey was bombed and damaged, but subsequent reconstruction work restored most of it in the early 1950s. In 1952, the restored interior of the Grand Hall of the Central Criminal Court was once again open; the interior of the Great Hall is decorated with paintings commemorating the Blitz, as well as quasi-historical scenes of St Paul's Cathedral with nobles outside. Running around the entire hall are a series of axioms, some of biblical reference, they read: "The law of the wise is a fountain of life" "The welfare of the people is supreme" "Right lives by law and law subsists by power" "Poise the cause in justice's equal scales" "Moses gave unto the people the laws of God" "London shall have all its ancient rights"The Great Hall is decorated with many busts and statues, chiefly of British monarchs, but of legal figures, those who achieved renown by campaigning for improvement in prison conditions in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
This part of the building houses the shorthand-writers' offices. The lower level hosts a minor exhibition on the history of the Old Bailey and Newgate featuring historical prison artefacts. In 1973, the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA exploded a car bomb in the street outside the courts, killing one and injuring 200 people. A shard of glass is preserved as a reminder, embedded in the wall at the top of the main stairs. Between 1968 and 1972, a new South Block, designed by the architects Donald McMorran and George Whitby, was built to accommodate more modern courts. There are presently 18 courts in use. Court 19 is now used variously as a press overflow facility, as a registra
Ministry of Justice (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Justice is a ministerial department of the British Government headed by the Secretary of State for Justice and Lord Chancellor. The department is responsible for areas of constitutional policy not transferred in 2010 to the Deputy Prime Minister, human rights law and information rights law across the UK; the ministry was formed in May 2007 when some functions of the Home Secretary were combined with the Department for Constitutional Affairs. The latter had replaced the Lord Chancellor's Department in 2003, its stated priorities are to reduce re-offending and protect the public, to provide access to justice, to increase confidence in the justice system, uphold people’s civil liberties. The Secretary of State is the minister responsible to Parliament for the judiciary, the court system and prisons and probation in England and Wales, with some additional UK-wide responsibilities e.g. the UK Supreme Court and judicial appointments by the Crown. The Ministry of Justice of UK might oversee the administration of justice in Jersey and the Isle of Man, as well as Saint Helena and Tristan da Cunha and the Falkland Islands.
Gibraltar, another British overseas territory, has its own Ministry of Justice. Prior to the formation of the Coalition Government in May 2010, the ministry handled relations between the British Government and the three devolved administrations: the Northern Ireland Executive. Responsibility for devolution was transferred to the re-established position of Deputy Prime Minister, based in the Cabinet Office, he assumed responsibility for political and constitutional reform, including reform of the House of Lords, the West Lothian Question, electoral policy, political party funding reform and royal succession. The Deputy Prime Minister and Secretary of State for Justice have joint responsibility for a commission on a British bill of rights; the Ministry of Justice retained the following UK-wide remit: European Union and international justice policy Freedom of information and data protection Human rights and civil liberties The Supreme Court of the United Kingdom The National ArchivesAs the office of the Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain, the ministry is responsible for policy relating to Lord Lieutenants, "non-delegated" royal and hereditary issues, other constitutional issues, although the exact definition of these is unclear.
The post of Lord Chancellor of Ireland was abolished in 1922 but Northern Ireland remains part of the UK, however the functions and responsibilities do belong from to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley. The vast majority of the Ministry of Justice's work takes place in Wales; the ministry has no responsibility for devolved criminal justice policy, prisons or probation matters in either Scotland or Northern Ireland. Within the jurisdiction of England and Wales, the Ministry of Justice is responsible for ensuring that all suspected offenders are appropriately dealt with from the time they are arrested, until convicted offenders have completed their sentence; the ministry is therefore responsible for all aspects of the criminal law, including the scope and content of criminal offences. Its responsibilities extend to the commissioning of prison services and reducing offending, victim support, the probation service and the out-of-court system, the Youth Justice Board and parole policy, criminal injuries compensation and the Criminal Cases Review Commission.
The Attorney General for England and Wales works with the Ministry of Justice to develop criminal justice policy. Other responsibilities limited to England and Wales include the administration of all courts and tribunals, land registration, legal aid and the regulation of legal services and the investigation of deaths, administrative justice and public law, the maintenance of the judiciary, public guardianship and mental incapacity, supervision of restricted patients detained under the Mental Health Act 1983 and civil law and justice, including the family justice system and claims management regulation; the Ministry of Justice is the department that facilitates communication between the Crown dependencies i.e. Jersey and the Isle of Man, HM Government; these are self-governing possessions of the British monarch, through her titles as Duke of Normandy in the Channel Islands and Lord of Mann in the Isle of Man. It processes legislation for Royal Assent passed by the insular legislative assemblies and consults with the Islands on extending British legislation to them.
It ensures that relevant British legislation is extended to the islands smoothly. The Ministers in the Ministry of Justice are as follows: The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Justice is Richard Heaton, by virtue of his office working for the Lord Chancellor Clerk of the Crown in Chancery. Justice ministry Government of the United Kingdom Politics of the United Kingdom Official website Ministry of Justice resources for legal professionals Ministry of Justice organogram from data.gov.uk
Magistrate (England and Wales)
In the legal system of England and Wales, there is a history of involving lay people, namely people from the local community who are not required to hold any legal qualifications, in the judicial decision-making process of the courts. They are called justices of magistrates; these magistrates were termed "lay magistrates" to differentiate them from stipendary magistrates. District judges are permanently employed by the Ministry of Justice. Magistrates are not paid, apart from an allowance for loss of earnings and subsistence. A practising solicitor or barrister may sit part-time as a deputy district judge. Retired district judges may sit as deputies. District judges are formally addressed in court as "sir" or "madam". In law reports, they are referred to as "DJ Smith". Magistrates sit in threes in order to give judgement on a variety of cases in magistrates' courts, youth courts and family proceedings courts; the lead magistrate, known as the chairman, is formally addressed in court as "sir" or "madam" or "your worship", the magistrates collectively as "your worships".
In law reports, they are referred to as "John Smith JP". Magistrates deal with less serious criminal cases, such as minor theft, criminal damage, public disorder and motoring offences. All magistrates sit in adult criminal courts as "benches" of three, mixed in gender and ethnicity whenever possible to bring a broad experience of life to the bench. All three members of the bench have equal decision-making powers but only the chairman speaks in court and presides over proceedings. A qualified legal adviser known as the court clerk, sits with the bench in the court room and is available to them at all times during the court sitting; the term "bench" is used collectively to describe a group of magistrates assigned to a particular local justice area. Magistrate derives from the Middle English word magistrat, denoting a "civil officer in charge of administrating laws". Today, in Wales, the word is used to describe a justice of the peace; the office of justice of the peace has its origins in the 12th century when Richard I appointed'keepers of the peace' in 1195.
The title justice of the peace derives from 1361, in the reign of Edward III. An Act of 1327 had referred to "good and lawful men" to be appointed in every county in the land to "guard the Peace". Justices of the peace still retain the power confirmed to them by the Justices of the Peace Act 1361 to bind over unruly persons "to be of good behaviour"; the bind over is not a punishment, but a preventive measure, intended to ensure that a person guilty of a minor disturbance does not re-offend. The Act provided, among other things, “That in every county of England shall be assigned for the keeping of the peace, one lord and with him three or four of the most worthy of the county, with some learned in the law, they shall have the power to restrain the Offenders and all other Barators, to pursue, arrest and chastise them according to their Trespass or Offence". Over the following centuries, justices acquired many administrative duties, such as the administration of the Poor Laws and bridges, weights and measures.
For example, before 1714, magistrates could be approached at any time and in any place by people recognised as paupers, appealing to them for aid if parish authorities had refused to provide any. It was common for these magistrates to write out, on the spot, an Order requiring aid to be granted; the 19th century saw elected local authorities taking over many of these duties. There is one remnant of these duties, the appellate jurisdiction over the licensing of pubs and clubs. Towards the end of the 18th century, the absence of an adequate police force and the quality of local justices became matters of concern. Justices received no salary from the government, they were appointed from prominent citizens of property, but a shortage of landed gentlemen willing to act in London led to problems. In Middlesex, for example, the commission was dominated by merchants, tradesmen and a small number of corrupt magistrates, known as "Trading Justices" because they exploited their office for financial purposes.
A Police Bill in 1785 failed to bring adequate supervision of justices. However, the Middlesex Justices Act of 1792 set up seven public offices, in addition to Bow Street, with three justices in each, with salaries of £400 a year; the power to take fees was removed from all justices in the city. Six constables were appointed with powers of arrest; this was the origin of the modern stipendiary magistrate. One famous magistrate was Sir John Fielding, who succeeded his half-brother as magistrate in Bow Street Magistrates' Court in 1754 and refined his small band of officers into an effective police force for the capital. Stipendiaries remained in charge of the police until 1839; the first paid magistrate outside London was appointed in 1813 in Manchester. The Municipal Corporations Act 1835 gave boroughs the ability to request the appointment of a stipendiary magistrate in their locality. Stipendiaries were not required to have any qualifications, however they could only be appointed from the ranks of barristers and
Judiciary of England and Wales
There are various levels of judiciary in England and Wales — different types of courts have different styles of judges. They form a strict hierarchy of importance, in line with the order of the courts in which they sit, so that judges of the Court of Appeal of England and Wales are given more weight than district judges sitting in county courts and magistrates' courts. At 31 March 2006 there were 1,825 judges in post in England and Wales, most of whom were circuit judges or district judges; some judges with United Kingdom-wide jurisdiction sit in England and Wales Justices of the United Kingdom Supreme Court and members of the tribunals judiciary. By statute, judges are guaranteed continuing judicial independence; the following is a list of the various types of judges who sit in the Courts of England and Wales: Since 3 April 2006, the Lord Chief Justice has been the overall head of the judiciary. He was second to the Lord Chancellor, but that office lost its judicial functions under the Constitutional Reform Act 2005.
The Lord Chief Justice is the head of the Criminal Division of the Court of Appeal. He was President of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court, but on becoming head of the judiciary that responsibility was transferred to a new office. Although the Lord Chancellor is no longer a judge, he still exercises disciplinary authority over the judges, jointly with the Lord Chief Justice, he has a role in appointing judges. In law reports, the Lord Chief Justice is referred to as "Smith LCJ" or "Lord Smith CJ", the Lord Chancellor as "Smith LC". In court, the Lord Chief Justice wears a black damask gown with gold lace along with a short wig during criminal cases and the black civil gown with gold tabs during civil cases. Ceremonially, the Lord Chief Justice wears the red robe with white trim along with a gold chain and full wig; the Lord Chancellor wears white winged shirt with ruffled collar, black waistcoat, black coat underneath the black damask gown with gold lace, black knee-length breeches with black silk stockings, full-bottomed wig during ceremonial occasions.
There are four Heads of Divisions aside from the Lord Chief Justice: the Master of the Rolls, the President of the Queen's Bench Division, the President of the Family Division and the Chancellor of the High Court. The Master of the Rolls is head of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal; the other Heads are in charge of the three divisions of the High Court. The Chancellor of the High Court is President of the Chancery Division of the High Court; until 2006 this role was nominally held by the Lord Chancellor, but was in practice delegated to the Vice-Chancellor. The Vice-Chancellor was renamed Chancellor of the High Court when the Lord Chancellor's judicial role was abolished; the Heads of Division are referred to in law reports as "Smith MR", "Smith P", "Smith P", "Smith C" respectively. Vice-Chancellors from pre-2006 Chancery cases were referred to as "Smith VC". In court, the Heads of Division wear a black damask gown with gold lace along with a short wig during criminal cases and the black civil gown with gold tabs during civil cases.
Ceremonially, the Heads of Division wear red gowns with white trim along with full wigs except for the Master of the Rolls who wears the black damask gown with gold lace and full wig. Judges of the Court of Appeal are known as Lords Justices, they too are Privy Counsellors. Before swearing in they may be addressed as The Honourable Lord Justice Smith, after swearing in as the Right Honourable Lord Justice Smith. Female Lord Justices are known as Lady Justices. Addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady". In law reports, referred to as "Smith LJ", for more than one judge, "Smith and Jones LJJ". Lords Justices of Appeal could only be drawn from barristers of at least 10 years' standing. In practice, much greater experience was necessary and, in 2004, calls for increased diversity among the judiciary were recognised and the qualification period was changed so that, as of 21 July 2008, a potential Lord Justice of Appeal must satisfy the judicial-appointment eligibility condition on a 7-year basis; the Lord Justices wear black silk gowns and court coats and short wigs during criminal cases and the black civil robe with gold tabs for civil cases.
For ceremonial occasions, they wear the full wig and black damask gown with gold lace. High Court justices are not Privy Counsellors and are therefore referred to as the Honourable Mr/Mrs Justice Smith. Addressed as "My Lord" or "My Lady". In law reports they are referred to as "Smith J", for more than one judge, "Smith and Jones JJ". High Court justices wear a short wig along with red and black gowns for criminal cases, a civil robe with red tabs without wig for civil cases and, when in open court, family cases. Judges of the Family Division sitting in private wear formal suits. Ceremonially, all High Court justices wear the red gown with white trim along with a full wig. A Master is a level of judge in the High Court whose decisions are of equal standing to that of a High Court judge at first instance, they are responsible for trials and case management pre-trial in civil cases in London. They wear dark blue gowns with pink tabs in court and are addressed as'Master', regardless of gender. Ceremonially, they wear a full-bottomed wig, court coat and black silk gown.
Each division has a senior Master and each division has a different title: Queen's Bench Division – Senior Master Chancery Division – Chief Chancery Master Costs Office – Senior Costs Judge Admiralty Court – Admiralty RegistrarThe Senior Master of the Queen's Bench Division holds the ancient judicial post of Queen's Remembrancer, is
Crown Court Church
A Scottish Presbyterian congregation was first established in London during the reign of King James I of England and VI of Scots, following the Union of the Crowns in 1603. Some of his Scottish courtiers worshipped in a chapel near the old Whitehall Palace at the diplomatic site as “Scotland Yard” and provided the original headquarters of London’s Metropolitan Police. More tangible records date from 1711; the church remained on the same site. The exterior of the church is scarcely visible as it shares walls with neighbouring buildings, whilst the interior retains a 17th-century feel The church is named after a small courtyard adjacent to its location, but is known as the "Kirk of the Crown of Scotland". Crown Court Church is the older of the two Church of Scotland congregations in London, the other being St Columba's in Pont Street, Knightsbridge; the church entrance is difficult to find, but is located in Russell Street, off Covent Garden, next to the Fortune Theatre and opposite the Theatre Royal.
The Reverend Philip Majcher was inducted as the new minister on 18 December 2007. The previous minister, the Reverend Sigrid Marten, moved to Edinburgh. St Columba's Church, London St. Paul's, Covent Garden List of Church of Scotland parishes List of churches in London Nordic churches in London Crown Court Church Church of Scotland Mystery Worshipper Report at the Ship of Fools website Media related to Crown Court Church at Wikimedia Commons
Reading is a large minster town in Berkshire, England, of which it is now the county town. It is in the Thames Valley at the confluence of the River Thames and River Kennet, on both the Great Western Main Line railway and the M4 motorway. Reading is 70 miles east of Bristol, 24 miles south of Oxford, 40 miles west of London, 14 miles north of Basingstoke, 12 miles south-west of Maidenhead and 15 miles east of Newbury as the crow flies; the first evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century. It was an important trading and ecclesiastical centre in the medieval period, as the site of Reading Abbey, one of the richest monasteries of medieval England with strong royal connections, of which the 12th century abbey gateway and significant ruins remain. By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth; the town was affected by the English Civil War, with a major siege and loss of trade, played a pivotal role in the Revolution of 1688, with that revolution's only significant military action fought on the streets of the town.
The 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. The 19th century saw the coming of the Great Western Railway and the development of the town's brewing and seed growing businesses. During that period, the town grew as a manufacturing centre. Today, Reading is a major commercial centre, with involvement in information technology and insurance, despite its proximity to London, has a net inward commuter flow, it is ranked the UK's top economic area for economic success and wellbeing, according to factors such as employment, health and skills. Reading is a major regional retail centre serving a large area of the Thames Valley, is home to the University of Reading; every year it hosts one of England's biggest music festivals. Sporting teams based in Reading include Reading Football Club and the London Irish rugby union team, over 15,000 runners annually compete in the Reading Half Marathon. In the 2011 census, the urban area around Reading had an estimated population of 318,014, making it one of the largest towns in the UK without city status.
The Borough of Reading has a population of 163,100. It is represented in Parliament by two members, has been continuously represented there since 1295. For ceremonial purposes the town is in the county of Berkshire and has served as its county town since 1867 sharing this status with Abingdon-on-Thames. Reading may date back to the Roman occupation of Britain as a trading port for Calleva Atrebatum. However, the first clear evidence for Reading as a settlement dates from the 8th century, when the town came to be known as Readingum; the name comes from the Readingas, an Anglo-Saxon tribe whose name means Reada's People in Old English, or less the Celtic Rhydd-Inge, meaning Ford over the River. In late 870, an army of Danes set up camp at Reading. On 4 January 871, in the first Battle of Reading, King Ethelred and his brother Alfred the Great attempted unsuccessfully to breach the Danes' defences; the battle is described in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, that account provides the earliest known written record of the existence of Reading.
The Danes remained in Reading until late in 871, when they retreated to their winter quarters in London. After the Battle of Hastings and the Norman conquest of England, William the Conqueror gave land in and around Reading to his foundation of Battle Abbey. In its 1086 Domesday Book listing, the town was explicitly described as a borough; the presence of six mills is recorded: four on land belonging to the king and two on the land given to Battle Abbey. Reading Abbey was founded in 1121 by Henry I, buried within the Abbey grounds; as part of his endowments, he gave the abbey his lands in Reading, along with land at Cholsey. It is not known how badly Reading was affected by the Black Death that swept through England in the 14th century, but it is known that the abbot of Reading Abbey, Henry of Appleford, was one of its victims in 1361, that nearby Henley lost 60% of its population; the Abbey was destroyed in 1538 during Henry VIII's dissolution of the monasteries. The last abbot, Hugh Cook Faringdon, was subsequently tried and convicted of high treason and hanged and quartered in front of the Abbey Church.
By 1525, Reading was the largest town in Berkshire, tax returns show that Reading was the 10th largest town in England when measured by taxable wealth. By 1611, it had a population of over 5000 and had grown rich on its trade in cloth, as instanced by the fortune made by local merchant John Kendrick. Reading played an important role during the English Civil War. Despite its fortifications, it had a Royalist garrison imposed on it in 1642; the subsequent Siege of Reading by Parliamentary forces succeeded in April 1643. The town's cloth trade was badly damaged, the town's economy did not recover until the 20th century. Reading played a significant role during the Revolution of 1688: the second Battle of Reading was the only substantial military action of the campaign; the 18th century saw the beginning of a major iron works in the town and the growth of the brewing trade for which Reading was to become famous. Reading's trade benefited from better designed turnpike roads which helped it establish its location on the major coaching routes from London to Oxford and the West Country.
In 1723, despite considerable local opposition, the Kennet Navigation opened the River Kennet to boats as far as Newbury. O
Attorney General for England and Wales
Her Majesty's Attorney General for England and Wales known as the Attorney General, is one of the Law Officers of the Crown. The Attorney General serves as the chief legal adviser to the Crown and the Government in England and Wales, though they maintain their own office, they are still subordinate to the Cabinet-level Secretary of State for Justice; the Solicitor General for England and Wales serves as the next in command and is subordinate to the Attorney General. The position of Attorney General existed since at least 1243, when records show a professional attorney was hired to represent the King's interests in court; the position first took on a political role in 1461 when the holder of the office was summoned to the House of Lords to advise the government there on legal matters. In 1673 the Attorney General became the Crown's adviser and representative in legal matters, although still specialising in litigation rather than advice; the beginning of the twentieth century saw a shift away from litigation and more towards legal advice.
Today prosecutions are carried out by the Crown Prosecution Service and most legal advice to government departments is provided by the Government Legal Service, both under the supervision of the Attorney General. The job of the Attorney General is a demanding one, Sir Patrick Hastings wrote while serving that "to be a law officer is to be in hell". Duties include superintending the Crown Prosecution Service, the Serious Fraud Office, other government lawyers with the authority to prosecute cases. Additionally, the Attorney General superintends the Government Legal Department, HM Crown Prosecution Service Inspectorate and the Service Prosecuting Authority; the Attorney advises the government, individual government departments and individual government ministers on legal matters, answering questions in Parliament and bringing "unduly lenient" sentences and points of law to the Court of Appeal of England and Wales. Since the passing of the Law Officers Act 1997 duties can be delegated to the Solicitor General, any actions are treated as if they came from the Attorney General.
The origins of the office are unknown, but the earliest record of an "attorney of the crown" is from 1243, when a professional attorney named Laurence Del Brok was paid to prosecute cases for the King, who could not appear in courts where he had an interest. During the early days of the office the holder was concerned with representing the Crown in litigation, held no political role or duties. Although a valuable position, the Attorney General was expected to work hard; the office first took on a political element in 1461, when the holder was summoned by writ to the House of Lords to advise the government on legal matters. This was the first time that the office was referred to as the office of the "Attorney General"; the custom of summoning the Attorney General to the Lords by writ when appointed continues unbroken to this day, although until the appointment of Lord Williams of Mostyn in 1999, no Attorney General had sat in the Lords since 1700, no Attorney General had obeyed the writ since 1742.
During the sixteenth century the Attorney General was used to pass messages between the House of Lords and House of Commons, although he was viewed suspiciously by the Commons and seen as a tool of the Lords and the King. In 1673 the Attorney General began to take up a seat in the House of Commons, since it has been convention to ensure that all Attorneys General are members of the House of Commons or House of Lords, although there is no requirement that they be so. During the constitutional struggle centred on the Royal Declaration of Indulgence in 1672 and 1673 the Attorney General became the Crown's representative in legal matters. In 1890 the ability of an Attorney General to continue practising was formally taken away, turning the office-holder into a dedicated representative of the government. Since the beginning of the twentieth century the role of the Attorney General has moved away from representing the Crown and government directly in court, it has become more of a political and ministerial post, with the Attorney General serving as a legal adviser to both the government as a whole and individual government departments.
Despite this change, until the passing of the Homicide Act 1957 the Attorney General was bound to prosecute any and all poisoning cases. However, in recent times the Attorney General has exceptionally conducted litigation in person before the courts, for instance before the House of Lords in A and Others v Secretary of State for the Home Department, where the legality of the Government's detention of terrorist suspects at Belmarsh was at issue; the Attorney General is a non-cabinet minister. The rule that no Attorney General may be a cabinet minister is a political convention rather than a law, for a short time the Attorney General did sit in cabinet, starting with Lord Birkenhead in 1915 and ending with Douglas Hogg in 1928. There is nothing that prohibits Attorneys General from attending meetings of the cabinet, on occasion they have been asked to attend meetings to advise the government on the best course of action legally. Despite this it is considered preferable to exclude Attorneys General from cabinet meetings so as to draw a distinct line between them and the political decisions on which they are giving legal