Morris to hire 50 civil junior counsel

Attorney General John Morris QC is advertising 50 new government civil counsel posts for the junior Bar in what he claims is a new era of “opportunity and transparency” for government appointments.

Morris, fighting a sex discrimination claim over the appointment of government civil counsel, is recruiting counsel and solicitor-advocates of between two and five years' experience to a new panel of civil counsel.

The C panel of counsel has been added to two panels – the B panel, made up of 80 barristers of between five and 10 years' call, and the A panel, for 20 barristers of more than 10 years' call.

The new panel is part of a shake-up of the system for appointing civil counsel.

It was recommended by an inquiry set up by Morris last year, after barrister Josephine Hayes launched a sex discrimination action against him for not advertising the post of “Treasury Devil”, the most senior treasury counsel job.

Morris wants to attract more females and members of ethnic minorities to the posts. He admitted he did not know the sex and ethnic mix of government counsel but that questionnaires had been sent to determine it.

Morris said: “We are doing this in a way that allows people to get on and do government work on merit, and I want the best.”