QC lifts lid on discrimination

EXAMPLES of unfair discrimination in the judicial appointments system are being considered by Parliament's Home Affairs Select Committee.

The committee will take evidence from individuals and groups representing women and ethnic minorities.

Early evidence has come from Martin Bowley QC, a leading criminal barrister and immediate past treasurer of the Bar Council.

Bowley, a campaigner for gay and lesbian equality, claims he is providing documented evidence of discrimination against him by the LCD in 1985 on the grounds of his being gay.

Bowley claims he was told the policy of the then Lord Chancellor, Lord Hailsham, was not to elevate known homosexuals to the bench for fear of them being subject to 'public and private pressures' (see profile, page nine).

Following Lord Chancellor Lord Mackay's statement in May 1994, clarifying his own policy of non-discrimination against gays, Bowley is calling for all records of sexual orientation in the LCD's secret files to be expunged.

The Association of Women Barristers is preparing a submission on the “old boy network”, calling for more public accountability and parliamentary scrutiny, says vice chair Barbara Hewson.