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Image of top chancery QC giving penis-themed PowerPoint presentation surfaces online

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The story behind the unusual picture

The online legal community has been left scratching its head this week, thanks to an unusual image which surfaced on Twitter.

Lucy McCormick, a barrister at Henderson Chambers, tweeted this, um, strange picture, adding that she feels there is a story behind it:

Never one to miss a good scoop, Legal Cheek got in touch with Gilead Cooper QC, a chancery barrister at Wilberforce Chambers and the man pictured behind the lectern in the above image.

He told us the phallus/locus standi debate was all part of his chambers’ commercial litigation conference in London. In what sounds like a law version of Would I Lie to You?, in the final session five barristers gave short presentations on cases, four real and one an invention.

While it may be hard to believe, Cooper’s PowerPoint was actually on a real case, namely 1991’s Bumper Corporation v Commissioner of Police. Here, the courts considered whether a Hindu Sivalingam — a stone phallus of religious worship — had standing to sue for the recovery of a looted sculpture. The High Court said yes, the Court of Appeal “left the point open.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Cooper’s audience had some trouble believing his stone phallus tale. In his words:

In the vote at the end, a majority of the audience thought that I was lying and the case was made up.

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