In response to the media reports about membership of the Garrick Club, the Bar Council has issued the following statement:

Chair of the Bar Council, Sam Townend KC, said:

“At the heart of the Bar Council's work, as the representative body for all barristers in England and Wales, is a commitment to fairness, equality and diversity. We are proud of the work that the Bar Council does in striving to achieve an inclusive and meritocratic legal profession.

“There is a significant body of evidence showing that women working in the legal profession, at all levels, face discrimination at work. This is illustrated by the Bar Council's own research on gender disparities in career progression, retention and earnings. Women barristers have told the Bar Council they have lower overall wellbeing and disproportionately experience bullying and harassment when compared to their male counterparts at work.

“Women barristers have not yet secured equal representation or remuneration in our profession and are underrepresented in the judiciary. In this regard, the Bar Council remains committed to ensure that those who work within the justice system are more reflective of the society we serve.

“Closed doors and exclusionary spaces do not foster support or collaboration between colleagues. Where progression from the legal profession into the judiciary relies on references, they create the potential for unfair advantage.

“For now, it is a matter for individuals to determine whether or not membership of an institution, such as the Garrick Club, is compatible with the views they espouse in their professional lives, but this may change. As a profession it is vitally important that we retain the trust and confidence of the public.”