The image of Oxbridge-educated male judges dominating the courts appears to be over after the Old Bailey reached gender parity for the first time.
Mark Lucraft QC, 59, the Recorder of London, said that it was a “significant step in the right direction” but added more could be done on ethnic diversity.
There are now seven female and seven male full-time judges, plus Judge John Hillen, who transferred after the closure of Blackfriars crown court.
Lucraft said that he hoped the change would show that courts now better reflected society.
“I don’t think men or women have a particular trump card over others but I think it’s important courts reflect society,” he said. [J4MB emphasis. It’s so “important” that merit can be – and always is – completely disregarded as a factor to achieve the target of “reflecting society”. What a pathetic mangina.]
“I would be the first to accept there is more needs to be done in respect of ethnic background but at least this is a significant step in the right direction.”
Commenting on his own background, he said that it reflected progress towards diversity and he had gone to a comprehensive school rather than public school and did not study at Oxford or Cambridge.
“Personally, I’m a strong believer in diversity of individual background,” he said. “Certainly, I know quite a number of judges here are not perhaps from traditional areas where judges might have been selected — public school, Oxbridge. I went to a comprehensive school in north London, the University of Kent, and ended up here.” By bringing together a broad spectrum, the pool of judges at the Old Bailey reflects society better than “if they are all white, male, privately educated, Oxbridge-educated applicants”.
He hoped that achieving gender parity would send a “positive message” to other areas of the criminal justice system and encourage people to put themselves forward. [J4Mb emphasis. People?]
Lucraft added that while combining difficult legal work with school-age children was a “balance that has to be struck” it should be no bar to becoming a senior circuit judge at the Old Bailey. [J4MB emphasis: WHY should it be “no bar” when the consequence is that the women will regularly not turn up for cases they’re presiding over? What circumstances would be acceptable to give men the same pass? None.]
In 2012 Judge Wendy Joseph QC was the only full-time female judge sitting at the Old Bailey. [J4MB emphasis. From one to seven in nine years. Positive discrimination, anyone?]
She had followed in the footsteps of Judge Nina Lowry, the first full-time female Old Bailey judge and Judge Ann Goddard.
The most recent appointments are Rebecca Trowler QC, Simon Mayo QC and Alexia Durran who bring a wide range of professional experience.
Lucraft said that in the past Old Bailey judges were often “men of a certain age” but the most recent additions bring the range down to between 50 and 69. [J4MB emphasis: In plain English, younger / less experienced women (not younger / less experienced men) have been promoted to these positions, inevitably compromising justice. Same old, same old.]
“I’m hugely impressed by the quality of those who applied for the post and were shortlisted. I’m immensely pleased with the judges who have been appointed here.
“And I am delighted that I am leading a court — the premier criminal court — where we have for the first time equal numbers of men and women doing difficult, complex cases and bringing to that work a broad spectrum of background practice and ideas.”
Trowler said: “Sitting as a judge at the Old Bailey is a privilege in of itself and to do so as the court achieves gender parity for the first time is an even greater honour. This is an important milestone along the way as the judiciary seeks to reflect the society it represents.”
Durran hoped that the milestone would inspire more young women to consider a career in the judiciary. “By appointing judges from a wide range of personal and professional backgrounds we are sending an important message that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach in law or the judiciary,” she said.
“I hope that by seeing female judges presiding over some of the most complex and difficult cases in England and Wales it will inspire other young women and female practitioners to consider law and judicial appointment as a career.” [J4MB: Women have outnumbered men as law students for many hears. Are women so stoooooooooooooopid as not to consider law as a career today?]
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