It’s that time of the year again, when I renew my practising certificate, and the Bar Council in its wisdom requires me to provide the usual updates on my practice, and what I’ve been up to over the past twelve months.  There is also a question about my sexual orientation, and I got to wondering, how is this relevant to my practice as a barrister?  I am sure there is somebody in the Bar Council’s office who can answer this question, but I am mystified.

Over the recent past,  hardly a day goes by without some new sexual revelation, almost ad nauseam, not specifically about the profession, although judges are notorious cross dressers, by necessity not by choice I add.  Let’s face it, if you dress up in a long flowing gown, with matching stockings and buckled shoes, and topped off with a full length wig, what do you expect?

Sex has come a long way since I was first exploring my manhood.  I travelled a familiar route in those days, down to the pub on a Saturday night, check out the local Totty, and if a suitable candidate presented herself, I’d sashay over with my cool dude expression: “Hey Babe, what are we doing tonight?”  I thought this more sophisticated than: “Hey Babe, fancy a quickie?”  Most times I’d be seen off by Mr. Beefcake, Totty’s man of the moment who’d emerge from the Gents and in no mood to share her affections, but every now and again Totty would be impressed by my balls, metaphorically speaking of course, and I was off and running.

My courtship routine followed a familiar pattern.  On the first date I’d see her home, an affectionate peck on the cheek to put down a marker, I’d get her phone number, and withdraw, again metaphorically speaking.  On the second date, during a romantic dinner for two at some dimly lit tavern, it was an opportunity to get intimate, not necessarily the full nine yards,  but an awkward grope on the sofa was the very least I could expect. I have to say that during our torrid tumble, it never occurred to me to get something in writing, to protect myself in the years to come, when I was rich and famous, against a claim that I had breached Totty’s human rights, or worse still, that I had sexually abused her.

The other thing that concerns me, and I have written about this before, is the prevalence of sexual complaints decades after they were supposed to have been committed, with a variety of unconvincing reasons for the delay.  There should be a limitation period, I suggest ten years, beyond which no complaint will be considered, let alone prosecuted, as is the case in the civil law, where limitation periods are strictly applied.

Back to sex, and speaking for myself, I don’t like one night stands, I’ve never been that sort of guy.  It’s demeaning, so I, along with many others, start a relationship in the hope that it will be fulfilling in every sense of the word, and possibly lead to marriage and a life together.

As the Church of England Marriage Service tells us, marriage is not to be entered into lightly or wantonly, and in my professional experience, I am sometimes asked to advise clients on the merits of a prenuptial agreement.  I say ‘sometimes’, because many couples in advance of marriage feel embarrassed and fearful that their blossoming relationship may be irreparably damaged by even mentioning such an agreement, let alone signing on the dotted line, as somehow it smacks of impending failure before they have taken a single step on the road of life. That is not something on which any professional can advise, as it needs a crystal ball.

When it comes to sexual relationships, there is a real need for re-education on both sides of the debate, coupled with more tolerance, so that society can embrace such discussions openly, in a compassionate and informed manner, giving both sides of the story equal weight.   


I remember many years ago, a defence barrister colleague of mine rose to his feet to deliver his final speech to the jury after the midday adjournment. “Members of the Jury,” he began unsteadily, “we’ve reached that stage in the trial when I address you on behalf of the Defendant, the learned judge will then direct you on the law, and you will then reach your verdict.  However, I am far too pissed to give a damn, the learned judge is notoriously ignorant of the law, and you lot look far too stupid to reach anything.”  He was led quietly away. Whilst he may well have been right on all counts, it wasn’t politically correct.

Which brings me effortlessly on to Liz Truss.  In case you  missed the clean up of the Augean Stables, she has replaced Brutus Gove as Secretary of State for Justice, and with it goes the appointment of Lord Chancellor (surely Lady?).  Some reservations have already been expressed about her suitability to fill both appointments.  Those of the backwoodsman mentality have expressed reservations about her sex, by which I assume they are referring to her gender.  The argument goes that she cannot be expected to stand up to crusty geriatric judges, almost all of whom to a man are men.

Pausing there, and I may need your help, am I allowed to refer to men and women as men and women, or is this sexual discrimination?  What happens if some or all of the men and women are actually transgender?  One suggestion I read recently is that they are referred to collectively as ‘zie’ instead of he or she. I could be wrong, but I think this was a serious suggestion, and not tongue in cheek.  Hang on, can I say ‘tongue in cheek’?  Doesn’t this have sexual innuendos? And does this apply to the fragrant Liz, and if so, how so? But at the risk of blundering on, can I describe our Liz as ‘fragrant’?  Doesn’t this typecast her as a woman, or can transgenders be ‘fragrant’ as well?

But there’s more: can I refer to ‘our Liz’ as ‘our Liz’, or is this patronising, the more so coming from a man (me)?  More to the point, am I a man, or am I also transgender?  Enough I say, lest I get dragged to the stocks.

Back to Liz, fragrant or otherwise, there are others who complain that she has no legal training or experience, and she hasn’t.  Those who wish to volunteer should form an orderly queue!  OMG, can I say that?

She is not exactly breaking new ground.  Her two immediate predecessors had no legal training or experience either.  Grayling wasn’t in post long enough to make any sort of an impression, even on himself, or should that be ‘zieself? But Brutus Gove, for all his recent transgressions, was making a fist of it before events overtook him.  He muttered darkly about abolishing the Human Rights Act and having our own Bill of Rights, hugely exciting, but of more relevance was his stated intention of reforming the prison service.  Ms. Truss has promised to continue these reforms, I say ‘continue’ advisedly as no serious reforms have yet to be implemented, but be warned, time is against her.  Our prisons remain seriously overcrowded and, according to the Chief Inspector of Prisons: “Far too many of our prisons have become unacceptably violent and dangerous places.”

As I have said before, treat human beings like animals and they’ll behave like animals.  It’s not good enough to lock them up and throw away the key.  Shorter sentences, education and rehabilitation should be the norm in a civilised society, not the exception.

As for the fragrant Liz, I am all in favour of women in the workplace.  It used to be called the kitchen, but that is positively antediluvian, and there’s a new life, a new dawn, and it’s time to move on. Hang on a minute: isn’t that plagiarism?  Apologies to Nina Simone, or should that be Michelle Obama, or Donald Trump’s present squeeze?  Sadly, I’ve forgotten her name, but whilst English is clearly not her language of first choice, she is very easy on the eye.  Oops, there I go again!

David Osborne is the author of three humorous books on the Law.  His latest entitled Order in Court is now available in all reputable bookstores and on Amazon.