“Women at Human Rights Chambers Complain of Sexual Harassment”

I usually try to come up with my own headlines, but my modest talents have proved inadequate to matching either the poignancy or the comic effect of this contribution in today’s Times.

Few headlines these days make me rejoice, fewer still call for jumping up, punching the air and screaming “Yes!!!”. Yet this one did the trick.

It’s hard to think offhand of any other line that could have a similar effect. Perhaps “RSPCA Staff Guilty of Cruelty to Animals”. Or “Blacks Excluded from Commission for Racial Equality”.

Or “Church of England: Let the Boys Wear Tiaras”… oops, sorry. This last one is another real headline, and it had no air-punching effect – quite the opposite. In fact, that was one of those rare instances when I was speechless.

Surely encouraging transvestism, transsexuality and other gender-bender perversions is the job for the government, not the Church? It’s downright presumptuous of the Archbishop of Canterbury to think that HMG needs God’s help in either reducing or increasing the number of sexes stipulated in Genesis.

So back to the story at hand. Matrix Chambers is the brain child of Cherie Booth, QC, better known as Mrs Tony Blair. If half the stories one hears about her are true, Mrs Blair represents an organic blend of Messalina, Lucrezia Borgia and Rosa Luxemburg, which makes her marriage to Tony one of those made in heaven.

She and a few other lawyers set up Matrix in 2000 to champion diversity and dedicate itself to the “promotion and advancement of women”. Yet a secret internal report proves that laws of nature (not to be confused with natural law) haven’t yet been repealed.

Actually, they have been repealed, but the news hasn’t quite reached the male lawyers of Matrix, who apparently are guilty of the worst, or at least the most fashionable, crimes. The moment those legal gentlemen doff their wigs, they’re out to subject their female colleagues to sexual harassment and salacious innuendo.

Moreover, such felonious outrages are “endemic in our profession”, according to a group of barristers called Behind the Gown. Actually, Under the Gown seems more appropriate.

No wonder the Matrix management ordered its 80 members to hush up the report because spilling the beans would be “highly corrosive”. They obviously know little about justice, at least that of the poetic variety. Nor do they possess sufficient sense of humour to enjoy the delicious irony as much as I do.

A number of female barristers working for Matrix clearly doubt not only the sexual probity of their organisation but also its professional competence. “We need to know,” they wrote, “that if something happened that required us to make a complaint, Matrix is equipped to handle it.”

I dare say that if an outfit employing 80 lawyers isn’t equipped to handle such a situation, criminally monstrous as it is, I don’t know who would be. Perhaps the Church of England – unless it’s too busy promoting degene…, sorry, I mean the equality of sexes, all 10 of them.

It’s also instructive that our female barristers think far ahead. Judging by their wording, and barristers do know how to express themselves precisely, nothing that would require them to make a complaint has happened yet. But, judging by the behaviour of their frisky colleagues, it might.

In the same vein, I’d like to know that, if something happened that required me to make a complaint that my car has been stolen, the police would be able to handle it. No, forget that. I know they wouldn’t be: their time is taken up investigating such crimes as people being called fat bastards, ginger tossers or black anything.

Now that I’ve vented some bile out of my system, two serious comments are in order.

First, the very existence of a legal speciality devoted to human rights is as offensive as the Church of England promoting degene…, sorry, I mean the equality of sexes. For, hard as I try, I can’t recall any great human rights lawyers of the past.

Solon? Cicero? Anyone closer to our own time? Earl of Mansfield perhaps? You’ll find that human rights law is a modern concoction, and a very recent one at that.

In the past, it was assumed that the English Common Law provided adequate protection for the ‘rights of Englishmen’, without any need for narrow specialisation. Simply upholding just laws was enough.

Then, at some point in Mrs Tony Blair’s and Mrs George Clooney’s lifetime, a need arose to defend human rights. Though deemed sufficiently protected before the advent of democracy and equality, they were now in jeopardy.

The idea appeals to me: my human rights are egregiously violated by the very existence of Mrs Tony Blair and Mrs George Clooney as public figures. But the inventors of this revolutionary idea must have had something else in mind.

The second serious observation is that every evil revolution does a Saturn by devouring its children. Many French demons went to the guillotine they loved so much. Many Russian demons perished in the terror they glorified.

The revolution under way now is, so far, less sanguinary, but it’s just as destructive – possibly more so. And it too is beginning to hit out at its perpetrators.

“None of it can be prevented,” wrote Seneca, “but it can all be despised.” And mocked. All we have left.

2 thoughts on ““Women at Human Rights Chambers Complain of Sexual Harassment””

  1. John Mortimer satirized that sort of thing far too gently but those with thick skins would never have noticed. This is why the higher courts must have judges who can spot suspect and trendy arguments. Such judges are now derided as ‘black letter lawyers’. But they are our only defence.

  2. “Mrs Blair represents an organic blend of Messalina, Lucrezia Borgia and Rosa Luxemburg”

    I think Cherie expressed a great fondness, admiration and respect for Hillary Clinton.

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