Accompanying UK State Secretary for Justice Kenneth Clarke on his visit to Slovakia this week was Lord Justice John Thomas. While Clarke was in meeting at the Ministry of Justice, Lord Justice Thomas took up the invitation of Supreme Court president, Stefan Harabin, to visit the Supreme Court, which is in the same building.
Harabin wanted to hear the opinion of the senior British judge about the question of immunity for judges, which Harabin has been ardently defending recently because of the government’s attempt to curb their immunity.
Lord Justice Thomas pointed out that in most EU countries judges are not afforded immunity from prosecution, and that if a judge is suspected of having committed some crime, there must be mechanisms to ensure a fully independent investigation.
According to Lord Justice Thomas, this kind of investigation should be carried out by prosecutors and police officers who are completely independent of the authorities. He feels that the independence of the investigation can be guaranteed if those involved do not have to report to some judicial authority immediately.
Harabin may not fully concur with statements, and he was also probably not pleased when Lord Justice Thomas gave his thoughts on a judge entering the political scene and then going back to the judiciary, as Harabin did. Thomas said that if a lawyer becomes a politician, he or she usually chooses the path of professional politics for good, but acknowledged that there could be differences in this from country to country.