Judicial Review of the UK Drone Strikes


Judicial Review remains one of the most challenging concepts that students seem to find at AS level. At it’s heart, it is the idea that the actions of the government are reviewed by a neutral and independent body who can look at whether the government acted beyond it’s power (ultra vires). In the UK, this process is hampered by the fact that Parliament remains sovereign and therefore even if the judiciary does rule against the government, the ruling is not binding on the government.

In this example, the judiciary has been asked to review the lawfulness of the recently announced drone strikes which killed two UK citizens in Syria:

“MP Caroline Lucas and Baroness Jones have now sought a judicial review of the policy, claiming that “targeted killing” is unlawful.” (BBC News)

While this process has no outcome yet, it is a useful example of the kind of actions that can be judicially reviewed. It is also useful as an example of ways in which pressure groups can act as this review has been supported by an international human rights pressure group called Reprieve. Finally it is a useful example of how even lone MPs (Caroline Lucas being the only Green Party MP in Parliament) can hold the government to account when the government has a majority in Parliament.