In the Media

Garrick Gate – a critical tipping point

Garrick Club in London.


The controversy surrounding the Garrick Club’s judicial membership – brought to light by The Guardian’s Amelia Gentleman a couple of months ago – is not about the fairness of a gathering of like-minded folk in a ‘gentleman’s club’. It is about public service and membership of a private male club being incompatible with the judicial oath and public pledges to support equality and diversity. 

In 2011, Lady Hale surfaced this issue at a law diversity event. She said: ‘I regard it as quite shocking that so many of my colleagues belong to the Garrick, but they don’t see what all the fuss is about… [Judges] should be committed to the principle of equality for all.’ 

Thirteen years later, at least five judges are said to be among those who resigned from the Garrick Club in the days after publication of the club’s closely guarded membership list on 19 March. The list of around 1,500 included a Supreme Court judge, five Court of Appeal judges, eight High Court judges as well as around 150 KCs.

The authors of this article were glad to sign the open letter, organised by barristers Dr Charlotte Proudman and Elisabeth Traugott and endorsed by over 65 lawyers, which caught the mood and challenged judges to resign from the club: ‘We are concerned that membership perpetuates systemic discrimination against women within the highest echelons of societal influence,’ the letter said.” 

Authors of this article: