Guest post: LibertyBelle speaks out

And one more thing…

The last time I dined in hall I took with me the then NUS Women’s Officer (and leader of the Student Socialist Workers’ Party) to evidence to her that the Bar had truly overcome its ill-deserved reputation for misogyny and chauvinism. Unfortunately, we were sat next to a Master who had had other ideas. Trying to dodge a question about whether I was wearing frilly knickers, I introduced the Women’s Officer – as the representative of all female students in the UK. “So you’ll know that all female students wear frilly knickers?” came back the Master.
But hey, that was some years ago. And last night, thankfully, was a very different affair. The Supreme Court Judge who was addressing the audience in Hall had reminded us never to lose our sense of outrage. Or our intellectual curiosity. Or our understanding of history. Because everything we face now we have faced before in some form. And he went on: “In the Bencher’s Room of Lincoln Inn, two portraits hang side by side – Pitt and Erskine. You would think them merely contemporaries. But although he was the better known (or known-as-better) man in 1794, William Pitt, terrified of a repeat of the guillotining of the King and Queen in France here, had arrested men who were no more than Fleet Street gossips. He suspended Habeas Corpus. Those arrested could be held without bail or charge. Eventually he tried 3 for treason – intending them to be hung and quartered. It was Erskine (usually terrified of Pitt in the Commons) who made those trials last eight days instead of one, from 8 am until 12 pm, and who spoke until he had no voice. It was because of Erskine the men went free. So we must stand up to Authority. And reactionary Government. And recognise the consequences of Fear.
And I heard this. And I knew with all my heart (because even lawyers can have feelings occasionally) that it was Good.
LibertyBelle is written anonymously by a junior barrister

June 27, 2010 · Tim Kevan · Comments Closed
Tags:  · Posted in: Uncategorized