Supreme Court: Was Lady Hale’s spider brooch during unlawful parliament suspension ruling a coded statement?

‘What a tangled web we weave, indeed’

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 24 September 2019 15:51 BST
Supreme Court rules the prime minister’s decision to prorogue parliament was unlawful

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court ruled Boris Johnson‘s decision to prorogue parliament earlier this month was “unlawful“.

The verdict was made unanimously among the 11 judges who heard the case, including Supreme Court president Lady Hale.

The 74-year-old, who has been the president of the UK’s highest court since 2017, immediately began trending on Twitter following the announcement of the decision.

However, it wasn’t just the baroness’ strength of conviction which earned her adulation on social media, but also her supposedly symbolic choice of brooch.

The judge wore a large spider brooch on her right shoulder for the hearing, an accessory which some believe may have been a thinly-veiled dig at the prime minister.

Anne Louise Avery, a writer and art historian, tweeted her belief that the brooch is representative of the “tangled web” of the political ruling.

“Lady Hale demonstrating the potential for vast novelistic sub-narratives offered by a correctly chosen brooch. What a tangled web we weave, indeed,” Avery wrote.

Meanwhile, Dr Marisa Ronan, a former academic and managing director of diversity and inclusion consultancy firm Psynapse EU, said she believes the brooch may have been chosen in direct reference to Irish prime minister Leo Varadkar’s recent “Athena jibe” towards Johnson.

During a joint press conference conducted with Johnson earlier this month, Varadkar said he wanted to be the “Athena” to Johnson’s “Hercules”.

“Arachne challenged Athena, goddess of wisdom and crafts, to a weaving contest. Such hubris resulted in her being transformed into a spider,” Dr Ronan tweeted.

Some saw it as a feminist statement, referencing a goddess worshipped in ancient folklore.

Novelist Melissa Harrison explained that following research, she discovered that “in Ancient Egypt, spiders were associated with the goddess Neith in her aspect as spinner and weaver of destiny”.

Due to the popularity of Lady Hale’s arachnid accessory, Uxbridge-based printing company Balcony Shirts announced it had created a “Lady Hale spider brooch T-shirt”.

Balcony Shirts stated on the e-commerce site that 30 per cent of the profits made from T-shirt sales will be sent to homeless charity Shelter.

The T-shirt, which is on sale on ebay for £10, has sold almost 2,000 times.

Support free-thinking journalism and attend Independent events

“In 15 years of doing this, nothing like this has ever happened to us before,” Balcony Shirts tweeted.

“Thank you so much for your orders and love. We’ve raised £4,000 for @Shelter so far. Homelessness in Uxbridge is a growing problem. We are going to work through the night to get orders out.”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in