JEREMY Wright has been named as the new Attorney General in David Cameron’s cabinet reshuffle.
The extent of the changes made by the Prime Minister came as surprise to political commentators, and the appointment of the Kenilworth and Southam MP to replace Dominic Grieve as chief legal advisor to government, was one of the major shocks, with many in the national press admitting they knew little about him.
The 41-year-old former justice minister – whose constituency includes large parts of Stratford district – studied at the Inns of Court School of Law in London before becoming a barrister and specialising in criminal law.
The Conservative MP for Kenilworth and Southam was elected in 2005 as MP for the then seat of Rugby and Kenilworth, before boundary changes saw him become MP for Kenilworth and Southam at the last General Election in 2010.
During his political career Mr Wright has served as an opposition whip, government whip and became justice minister in 2012.
He also founded the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia – an initiative to improve the lives of dementia sufferers and their carers.
The father-of-two’s new role will see him oversee the law officers’ departments including the Crown Prosecution Service.
He will also act as principal legal advisor on questions of human rights, EU and international law.
Other responsibilities include referring lenient sentences to the Court of Appeal, bringing proceedings for contempt of court and dealing with questions of law arising on government bills.
Mr Wright said: “It is a huge opportunity and a very interesting job. Its got a number of parts to it and involves giving the government legal advice and overseeing the CPS and the serious fraud office. There is some very serious aspects to this and I am very much looking forward to it.”
Some however have questioned where Mr Wright, along with newly appointed Solicitor-General Robert Buckland, have the necessary experience, compared with Mr Grieve and former Solicitor-General Oliver Heald, who between them had been barristers for a combined 73 years, much of it before becoming MPs.
It has also been questioned whether Mr Wright will be prepared to stand up to Mr Cameron in the same way Mr Grieve did if the Prime Minister was about to break the law.
The appointment also shocked some legal publications as Mr Wright is not a QC – a rank which they expect he will be awarded as part of his promotion.
Closer to home pressure has immediately been put on Mr Wright regarding his stance on HS2.
A Lib Dem spokesman said: “The stakes are even higher now for Mr Wright when it comes to the thorny question of HS2.
“He recently refused to follow the lead of neighbouring Conservative MPs and vote against the HS2 Hybrid Bill at its second reading, but is on record as saying that he will vote against it at the third reading stage if it is not improved substantially to the benefit of his constituents. To do so, of course, would mean he would have to resign from the government.”
Stratford MP Nadhim Zahawi expressed his best wishes on Twitter. He wrote: “Great news that my neighbour and friend Jeremy Wright is new Attorney General.”
Jeremy Wright accompanies Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to Jaguar Land Rover at Gaydon in the new Attorney General’s constituency. (s)