Divertissement: “Stop Doing That!”

I am sorry to see that Lord Lester has resigned from the House of Lords. However, I am not surprised. He is elderly, and no doubt has decided that he wants to spend more time with his family and not endlessly revisiting the claims of a woman who, based on her own career trajectory thus far, can fairly be described as a Professional Victim.

When I and other sensible and feisty women helped set up the Association of Women Barristers long, long ago (1990 actually, if my memory serves me right), the idea that you could complain about something that happened a decade or more ago – and expect the authorities to act on it – would have been received with incredulity.

But then, we were busy lawyers accustomed to working with strict time limits. Sacked by your employer? You had three months to lodge a tribunal claim. Want to challenge a decision of a public authority? Three months again.

Although the problem of sexual harassment was taken seriously and discussed, it was not seen as an insuperable problem. One statuesque American blonde who was an officer of the Association recounted an experience when, at lunch in one of the Inns, a knee-fondler tried it on with her.

“WILL YOU STOP DOING THAT?” she said loudly. The fondler was mortified, heads turned, and the problem was solved.

This is not to say that others might have felt less confident in tackling a low-level form of harassment, but it showed that a forthright approach could nip problems in the bud.

As for the fantasy, beloved of those who lobby the credulous Bar Standards Board, that hapless female trainees are exposed to Overtures from their wicked supervisors: I hate to tell you but, as I have already pointed out on Twitter, most male practitioners have all the allure of a crumpled carrier bag.

There. I said it.

So if you get anything more cheeky than “Fancy a pint down the Seven Stars?”, you know what to say: “’Ere, you avin’ a  laugh?”