No evidence for how Supreme Court judges voted in EU referendum

30th Sep 2019

Claim

10 of the UK’s Supreme Court judges voted to remain, and Lord Wilson voted to leave.

Conclusion

We don’t know how any of the Supreme Court judges voted.

We’ve been asked by our readers to check posts on Facebook, claiming that 10 out of 11 Supreme Court judges (who unanimously agreed that proroguing parliament was unlawful) voted to remain in the EU referendum. The image claims the only leave voter was Lord Wilson.

We cannot know this. Justices are allowed to vote, but the EU referendum, like all elections in the UK, was a secret ballot.

On top of this, all judges (also known as justices) must stay impartial when it comes to political matters. The Judicial Code of Conduct says justices must refrain from “any kind of party political activity and from attendance at political gatherings” or “taking part in public demonstrations which might diminish their authority as a judge or create a perception of bias in subsequent cases”.

The Courts and Tribunals Judiciary guidance also states that “it is of vital importance that judges are seen to be both independent and impartial”.

As such, anybody claiming that they know how the justices voted needs to provide evidence of how they know this. We have seen no evidence that would support this claim.

Two of the Supreme Court judges (Lady Arden and Lord Reed) are ad hoc judges of the European Court of Human Rights. This court is not part of the EU’s legal system, and separate from the Court of Justice of the European Union, which is responsible for making sure EU member countries comply with EU laws. The European Court of Human Rights doesn’t have the same members as the EU—for example, it includes Russia.

Correction 11 October 2019

The original article incorrectly stated that Lady Arden had not been on the prorogation case. This has now been corrected.