Three-quarters of new deputy High Court judges went to Oxbridge

Fitzpatrick: grew up on council estate

Three-quarters of new deputy High Court judges, announced yesterday, are Oxbridge graduates, it has emerged.

Some 24 of the new cohort of 32 – from which the future senior judiciary will be chosen – attended the two elite universities, with a further three educated at leading London universities.

Nine of the 32 are women, and just one a person of colour.

However, state education before university is well represented, with around half – at least 15 – of the new judges educated at either grammar or comprehensive schools.

Women make up nine of the total, while 23 are men. All but six are QCs.

Among the 32 are four solicitors: Adam Johnson QC of City giant Herbert Smith Freehills, one-time criminal lawyer Margaret Obi – now an independent legal assessor and chairperson for various statutory bodies – employment lawyer turned circuit judge Mary Stacey, and Pat Treacy, an EU/competition law partner and newly elected senior partner of London firm Bristows.

A further one, Sam Grodzinski QC, started out as a commercial litigation solicitor before becoming a barrister.

The new judges’ biographies published by the Judicial Appointments Commission go out of their way to emphasise diversity characteristics, with a number pointing out that the successful applicant was either the first of his or her family to become a lawyer, or attend university, or grew up on a council estate, and so forth.

For example, noting that Francis Fitzpatrick QC “grew up on a council estate in Birmingham” and went on to grammar school, the commission points out he was “one of the first in his family to attend university and the first to become a lawyer”.

The only representative of the black and minority ethnic community is Ms Obi, whose Nigerian parents came to the UK in the 1960s. Ms Obi has practised as a criminal defence solicitor, specialising in complex crime, and authored two books on prison law.

Among the Oxbridge graduates, the judges were evenly distributed between Oxford and Cambridge, with at least two having studied at both.

Several of the new judges have taught as legal academics, with current Criminal Law Commissioner Professor David Ormerod QC among their number.

Most of the cohort have practised in the commercial sphere, although several have specialised in human rights and family law. For instance, Deirde Fottrel QC, who studied first in Ireland and then at the London School of Economics, has specialised in family law cases.

Other London universities represented were King’s College and University College.

The new deputy High Court judges are:

Clare Ambrose, Adrian Beltrami QC, Nicholas Caddick QC, Jason Coppel QC, Julia Dias QC, Francis Fitzpatrick QC, Deirdre Fottrell QC, Kate Gallafent QC, Michael Green QC, Sam Grodzinski QC, Mathew Gullick, John Hayes QC, Ruth Henke QC, David Holland QC, Adam Johnson QC, John Kimbell QC, Peter Knox QC, Nigel Lickley QC, Gavin Mansfield QC, Hugh Mercer QC, Anthony Metzer QC, Timothy Mould QC, Margaret Obi, David Ormerod QC, James Pickering, David Rees QC, Clive Sheldon QC, Dan Squires QC, Mary Stacey, James Strachan QC, Pat Treacy, Heather Williams QC.


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