Government-inspired proposals to rename and restructure the UK Supreme Court have been criticised by the nation’s most senior judge.

Last November, the Sunday Telegraph reported that minsters were discussing plans to give the UK Supreme Court a new name, reduce its justices in number from the current 12 and bring in judges with “specialist” knowledge to hear individual cases.

Asked about the proposals yesterday by members of the House of Lords constitution committee, Lord Reed of Allermuir, the president of the Supreme Court, called the plans “a quite deliberate, downgrading and undermining of the most prestigious common law court in the world”.

Of the suggestion that the court could get a new name, Lord Reed said: “I think it would be widely perceived as an act of spite. It wouldn’t change the law or the attitude of the judges. The idea that seems to lie behind this proposal — that calling a court a ‘supreme court’ results in its behaving like the American one — is simply idiotic.”