London set Blackstone Chambers said today that it takes allegations against members ‘extremely seriously’ following the publication of a report recommending that Lord Lester of Herne Hill (Anthony Lester QC) be suspended from the House of Lords.
The set is yet to take formal action against Lord Lester but said it has strict internal policies in place to ensure complaints are dealt with.
Lester, a tenant at Blackstone, could face a three-year suspension from the House of Lords for allegedly sexually harassing a complainant and offering her a ‘corrupt inducement to have sexual relations’. He denies the allegations.
In its report the Lords Privileges Committee said it received a complaint in November last year that Lord Lester ‘had sexually harassed the complainant, had offered her a corrupt inducement to have sexual relations with her, and had warned her of unspecified consequences if she did not accept his offer’. The report recommended that Lester be suspended until 2022.
The House of Lords will debate a motion on Thursday on whether to accept the recommendation. The 82-year-old has already been suspended by his party, the Liberal Democrats.
The allegations are not related to Lord Lester’s work as a barrister.
In a statement to the Gazette a Blackstone Chambers spokesperson said: ‘We take any allegations of sexual harassment made against members of chambers or staff extremely seriously and have strict internal policies and procedures in place to ensure they are dealt with properly. The complaint against Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC was made to the House of Lords, which then conducted its own investigation. Given the possibility of further proceedings, it would be inappropriate to comment further.’
Lord Lester’s profile still appears on the Blackstone website.
The Bar Standards Board said it does not comment on whether or not individual barristers are the subject of a complaint or a disciplinary investigation.
A separate report by the Sub-Committee on Lords’ Conduct had recommended Lester be expelled from the Lords. However, after an appeal by Lord Lester, the privileges committee reduced the recommended sanction to suspension.