Partner leads backlash against Govt appointment procedures

Jane Coker – the immigration solicitor who is suing Lord Irvine for not advertising the adviser post he gave to his City lawyer friend Garry Hart – is not the only woman lawyer who has been considering legal action against the Government.

The Lawyer understands one woman barrister had been planning to make a similar sex discrimination application against the Attorney General John Morris QC, who hired Philip Sales, a barrister at Irvine's old chambers, 11 King's Bench Walk, as the common law “Treasury devil”.

As lawyers' resentment over governmental legal appointments grows, the Bar Council is conducting an investigation into the Treasury Counsel's appointment procedures.

Coker, who is claiming sexual discrimination against the Lord Chancellor's Department at Croydon Industrial Tribunal, said: “If I had seen the job advertised I would have applied.

“I'm more or less the same age as Hart and I'm the senior partner at a legal aid practice which I think would have made my experience more relevant. Failure to advertise jobs and to make them openly available flies in the face of equal opportunities. Women and ethnic minority solicitors barely feature in the cliques of lawyers that surround the Government.”

Coker also accuses the LCD of having no “objective selection procedure” and of “selecting staff known personally” to the Lord Chancellor.

Hart, a leading Herbert Smith planning lawyer is an Islington friend of the Blairs and Lord Irvine, and is godfather to one of the Blairs' children.