Giving girls top legal jobs would have ‘appalling’ results
A gender balance would ‘destroy’ the courts
Rushing to put more girls in top legal positions could have “appalling consequences” for British justice, claims one of the country’s most senior judges.
Lord Jonathan Sumption, a Supreme Court Justice, says a drive for gender balance could “destroy” the courts.
While half of barristers are now female, only 12 per cent are QCs, 24 per cent are judges and just one woman sits among the dozen Supreme Court justices.
Lord Sumption told the Evening Standard: “These things simply can’t be transformed overnight, not without appalling consequence in other directions.”
He added: “You’ve got to be patient. It has to happen naturally. It will happen naturally.
“But in the history of a society like ours, 50 years is a very short time.”
Attempting to explain the situation, Lord Sumption said British justice was a “terribly delicate organism”.
He added: “We have got to be careful not to do things at a speed which will make male candidates feel the cards are stacked against them.
“If we do that we will find that male candidates don’t apply in the right numbers.”
Kirsty Brimelow QC, of Doughty Street Chambers, said: “These comments exemplify what is wrong with the way women in the profession are viewed by those in the highest echelons of power.
“His comments encapsulate his deepest fears that power vested in the old boys’ network could come under siege.”
Despite this, the Supreme Court defended Lord Sumption.
They said: “The full quotes make clear that he believes that increasing diversity is important, and that the range of hidden barriers to improving diversity present a very complex problem.”
Earlier this month, Cambridge PhD student Charlotte Proudman hit out after receiving a “sexist” message from a leading solicitor on LinkedIn.
Charlotte Proudman, 27, who is studying a PhD in female genital mutilation, was called “stunning” on the career networking site.
And she was even told she had won “the prize for the best LinkedIn picture”.
The surprise message came from Alexander Carter-Silk, a 57-year-old top legal expert and partner in a London law firm.
Charlotte told The Times: “When I read the comment I thought ‘Here we go again, another sexist message.’
“When I saw it was from a senior legal professional in the law, I thought ‘No – this is really unacceptable.
“This is someone entrusted to hold up the law.
The PhD student said the solicitor had said sorry for any offence caused, but not for what he had said.
But his firm Brown Rudnick said: “We have apologised for the offence caused and have no further comment to make.”