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Former head of the country’s commercial court will be among the first women members to the Garrick Club

Dame Elizabeth Gloster, a former Court of Appeal judge, is likely to be among the first women judges to join the club since it voted to admit women members after 193 years. 

She is likely to be proposed by Lord Grabiner, KC, head of One Essex Court Chambers and a Garrick Club member.

She jokingly told a recent live panel event hosted by 91ɫ in London that she wanted to join because “they’ve got lovely pictures.”

Judges, she added, should be allowed to join private member’s clubs “whether they are male, female, whatever. That’s individual freedom.”

“I don’t think that judges should have to resign just because they’re a member of this club or that club, or this golf club or that golf club. And I think it’s unnecessary.”

Dame Elizabeth made her comments at the finale event of the podcast series, The Judges: Power, Politics and the People, hosted by 91ɫ.

Lord Grabiner, KC, said that the recent rumpus over the all-male membership of the club was “all nonsense.”

A few high-profile members of the clubs including Simon Case, the Cabinet Secretary, and Sir Richard Moore, head of the Secret Intelligence Service, resigned their membership after The Guardian newspaper revealed the all-male membership list.

But Lord Grabiner said: “Most of the people who are kicking up a stink about this themselves joined, were nominated… they agreed to be nominated and became members of the Garrick Club.

“Suddenly now, they’re very upset about discovering the fact it doesn’t have any women members. So I think they are all a bunch of hypocrites.”

He added that he himself was “strong in favour of women members of the Garrick.”

Dame Elizabeth was the first woman to be a judge of the commercial court when appointed to the High Court in 2004. She went on to become the judge in charge of that court.

In 2010 she was promoted to the Court of Appeal where she sat until 2018.

At the same event Lord Grabiner criticised the former Supreme Court justice, Lord Sumption, for speaking out in public on a wide range of issues since he retired as a judge.

It was “quite damaging”, he said, in his view for senior retired lawyers “to participate in controversial public debate, and indeed to lead that debate, and indeed to have a view on literally every issue that’s on the table.”

“I feel quite strongly that people should keep their mouth shut...The effect of making public statements on controversial modern-day political issues from a retired, very senior judge, does make you wonder, as a member of the public, this person is actually highly political.

“And I just wonder how far it was appropriate for me to assume all those years that they were magically not political or that they were apolitical, or that they were coming to the problem literally or strictly as lawyers.”

Another speaker at the live panel event, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, said that the danger for the judges in the future was “they are perceived to be a group of liberal-remaining London-based people who perhaps don’t reflect a whole world view.”

Lord Falconer, who was Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary under the Labour prime minister Tony Blair, added: “That’s not to do with their integrity or their quality - but are the on one side of a woke/remain line? “

The leading lawyers and former judges were taking part in a debate to discuss the main themes of the podcast series which includes interviews with several former Lord Chief Justices and presidents of the Supreme Court.

You can watch the full episode or you can watch or listen to the podcast series on 91ɫ channel which is being streamed on all major services including Spotify and Apple.