Irvine 'biased against women'

THE LORD Chancellor faces further "jobs-for-the-boys" allegations today as a second claim of sex discrimination comes before an industrial tribunal.

Last month Lord Irvine of Lairg was found guilty of indirect sex discrimination by appointing a senior City solicitor and personal friend, Garry Hart, as his special adviser.

Josephine Hayes, a barrister, claims procedures for the allocation of work to barristers representing the Government in civil cases discriminate against women. Her claim stems from a decision to appoint Philip Sales, a junior barrister and former working colleague of the Lord Chancellor, to the most senior position on the Government's list of retained barristers. Of 116 outside barristers on the list, only 13 are women.

Ms Hayes said she was not given the chance to apply because the appointment was made on the basis of "secret soundings" between the Lord Chancellor, the Solicitor General at the time, Lord Falconer of Thoroton, and five senior members of the judiciary. Today Ms Hayes will ask the tribunal to order the Lord Chancellor, the Attorney General, John Morris QC, and the senior judges to disclose the content of the "soundings".

If the tribunal rules against Ms Hayes's application, her solicitor, Sara Leslie, said she would apply for witness orders to force Lord Irvine to attend the tribunal to give evidence.

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