Report says judges old, white men

Judges are still overwhelmingly white, middle class, old men under Labour, despite its election promises to modernise the judiciary, research reveals.

The survey of the country's 692 judges shows that since Labour came into power, only seven of the 85 judges appointed by the Lord Chancellor – using the much criticised “secret soundings” system – are women.

The study by the Labour Research Department shows that the pull of the old school tie is still strong – nearly 80 per cent of the new appointees are public school-educated, while 73 per cent are Oxbridge graduates. The figures for the judiciary as a whole are not as bad – only 69 per cent of judges went to public school, while 64 per cent went to Oxbridge.

The findings are sure to embarrass the Lord Chancellor, who has been hit by a wave of cronyism accusations and was found guilty of indirect sexual discrimination in the appointment of his special adviser Garry Hart.

Legal Action Group policy director Vicki Chapman says: “This will come as an embarrassment to Lord Irvine because it confirms what we knew to be true: that the judiciary is still dominated by the white, middle class, male stereotype.”