South Eastern Circuit celebrates diversity

Breaking the mould in the name of equality and diversity was the theme for the South Eastern Circuit’s (SEC) event: Against the Odds—a celebration of Equality and Diversity. Four hundred guests and Circuiteers packed Middle Temple Hall on 20 January to celebrate this “most diverse of all Circuits”. 


Announcing a new Circuit initiative to set up an appointments advisory panel, David Spens QC, immediate past Circuit leader and architect of the event, said the SEC should exert its strong influence to alter the mix of judges: “The judiciary will only flourish and retain the public’s confidence if it attracts people, regardless of gender, from all socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.”
Attorney General, Baroness Scotland of Asthal, QC revealed that: “All my life, I have striven to be part of the solution, not the problem: to play my role in the shaping of our public institutions.”

Sir Adrian Fulford, Britain’s first openly gay High Court judge, described his “bizarre and depressing” experience of applying for judicial appointment in 1994 but added: “Times really do change—indeed at an accelerating rate, and I urge you not to give up...and you will ensure that the judiciary is truly open to all those who, on merit alone, deserve to be appointed.”
Rabinder Singh QC, Deputy High Court Judge with a formidable reputation in human rights law, also spoke inspiringly about his experiences.

Mohammed Khamisa QC, the SEC’s equality and diversity officer, told the gathering: “There are here today barristers from almost every area of practice, gender, race and religion—it is as diverse as it gets. This is the biggest event of its kind ever held by the Circuit”. Underlining his commitment to continue the work of his predecessor and Khamisa,  new Circuit leader Stephen Leslie QC announced the appointment of a second equality and diversity mentor: Frances Oldham QC.

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