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The nine Chris Grayling policies overturned after he left the Ministry of Justice

The nine Chris Grayling policies overturned after he left the Ministry of Justice

Agnes Chambre

3 min read

Chris Grayling was Justice Secretary for three years. In that time he rolled out numerous policies, some good, some…. less so.

Today the Supreme Court ruled the employment tribunal fees he introduced were unlawful.

But this is by no means the first time one of Mr Grayling’s policies has been ditched. At least nine major policy reforms have been U-turned on, either because of widespread outrage or because a court ruled against them.

Indeed, Michael Gove’s tenure as Justice Secretary was defined by the swift scrapping of much of his predecessor’s record.

PoliticsHome has rounded up the Grayling policies that have been consigned to the scrap heap.


Mr Grayling introduced employment tribunal fees in 2013 in an attempt to reduce the number of malicious and weak cases being brought forward. The fees meant claimants had to pay up to £1,200 and resulted in a 79% reduction in cases in three years.

The Supreme Court ruled today that the controversial charges are unlawful because they “prevent access to justice” and ordered the Government pay back millions of pounds.


The super-size “Secure College” was supposed to improve education in the youth justice system. It was going to hold 230 teenagers but it was not to be. The policy, announced by the Coalition in 2014, was scrapped by Mr Gove in 2015. Before it was ditched, the £100m plan received far-reaching criticism and was described as a “giant borstal” by critics.


Another idea Mr Grayling cooked up during his tenure was to place a restriction prisoners receiving books as part of a crackdown on “perks and privileges”.

It lasted for a year before being declared “unlawful” by the High Court. In the same initiative, the Government banned steel-stringed guitars, a move which came under fire from a group of prominent musicians.


The criminal court charge policy was so unpopular from the word go it saw 50 magistrates resign in protest. The idea behind it was to force adult offenders to contribute to the criminal justice system. This meant offenders would have to pay between £150 and £1,200 depending on what court they were in and whether or not they pleaded guilty. Michael Gove killed off the controversial scheme just seven months after it was brought into force.


One of the more ‘out there’ proposals from Mr Grayling was the contract to advise the Saudi prison service on training staff and running the organisation. It drew criticism from many, including Jeremy Corbyn in his first conference speech and even reportedly some inside Cabinet, and was ditched by Mr Gove in October 2015 – but not before it cost the Government £1.1m.


Yet another U-turn from the MoJ was over legal aid cuts. Mr Grayling had introduced a legal aid cut of 8.75% in March 2014, with a second reduction of the same amount planned for July 2015. But Mr Gove suspended that follow-up cut after he revealed the MoJ was facing no less than 99 legal challenges over the process, and a judicial review had “raised additional implementation challenges”.


Another policy put forward was an offender tracking scheme which would allow prisons to keep tabs on dangerous and repeat offenders. However the £23m contract was ditched after “considerable delays” because it proved “too challenging”.


One scheme placing restrictions on legal aid for domestic violence victims unless they met specific MoJ criteria was deemed “invalid” by the Court of Appeal.


The Ministry of Justice blocked prisoners in certain situations from receiving legal aid in 2013. Earlier this year, the Court of Appeal ruled the move was “inherently unfair” and argued the Government did not provide enough “alternative support” after stripping back legal aid. 

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