Ministerial code: No 10 ‘showing contempt for international law’

The former head of the government’s legal service has accused Downing Street of “contempt for the rule of international law” after it quietly abandoned a key plank of the ministerial code.

In a sharply-worded letter to the Guardian, Paul Jenkins claimed the obligation that ministers must comply with international law had caused “intense irritation” to David Cameron.

Jenkins, who was the government’s most senior legal official from 2006 until he stepped down last year, is the most high-profile legal figure to raise the alarm over a rewrite of the ministerial code published last week.

Until last Thursday, the ministerial code referred to an “overarching duty on ministers to comply with the law including international law and treaty obligations and to uphold the administration of justice”. The new version simply refers to a duty to comply with “the law”.

Jenkins wrote: “It is disingenuous of the Cabinet Office to dismiss the changes to the ministerial code as mere tidying up.

“As the government’s most senior legal official I saw at close hand from 2010 onwards the intense irritation these words caused the PM as he sought to avoid complying with our international legal obligations, for example in relation to prisoner voting.

“Whether the new wording alters the legal obligations of ministers or not, there can be no doubt that they will regard the change as bolstering, in a most satisfying way, their contempt for the rule of international law.”

Source: Ministerial code: No 10 ‘showing contempt for international law’ | Law | The Guardian

Join the Vox Political Facebook page.

If you have appreciated this article, don’t forget to share it using the buttons at the bottom of this page. Politics is about everybody – so let’s try to get everybody involved!

Vox Political needs your help!
If you want to support this site
but don’t want to give your money to advertisers)
you can make a one-off donation here:

Donate Button with Credit Cards

Buy Vox Political books so we can continue
fighting for the facts.

Health Warning: Government! is now available
in either print or eBook format here:

HWG PrintHWG eBook

The first collection, Strong Words and Hard Times,
is still available in either print or eBook format here:



  1. Harry October 26, 2015 at 9:28 pm - Reply

    Hmmm, given the now emergent fascist nature of the British state nowadays this just might be why (connect the dots):-

    Follow the money.

  2. NMac October 28, 2015 at 10:37 am - Reply

    They have no respect for anything at all which does not suit their nasty and often very sinister purposes.

Leave A Comment