Vote reportedly ‘forced’ by fellow Blackstone silk Lord Pannick
Blackstone Chambers‘ Lord Lester will now not be suspended from the House of Lords over allegations of sexual harassment after fellow Blackstone barrister, Lord Pannick, reportedly “forced” a vote to block the suspension.
Legal Cheek reported on Monday that the Lords Privileges Committee had recommended 82-year-old Lord Lester be suspended from the House until June 2022.
According to the committee’s report, the human rights specialist allegedly told Jasvinder Sanghera, the founder of the charity Karma Nirvana, that: “If you sleep with me, I will make you a baroness within a year.” If she refused, Sanghera told the inquiry: [Lord Lester] would see to it I never had a seat in the House of Lords, and warned me there would be other repercussions for me”.
Lord Lester has described the allegations as “completely untrue”.
His suspension has now been successfully overturned after 101 peers voted to quash their own watchdog’s decision. Interestingly, it was Lord Lester’s Blackstone buddy Lord Pannick who triggered the vote in the first place.
Legal Cheek would like to make it clear Lord Pannick declared his connection to Lord Lester prior to making his submissions to the House.
After a debate of nearly three hours, Lord Pannick has forced a vote to try to block the suspension of Lord Lester for alleged sexual harassment (he denies it)
— Esther Webber (@estwebber) November 15, 2018
During a pre-vote debate that lasted almost three hours, the House heard how Sanghera was not subjected to cross-examination to test the credibility of her allegations. Lord Pannick said his “close friend” has been done an injustice by a flawed system and that “his reputation has been destroyed.” In addition to this, Lord Pannick pointed out that a week after the alleged harassment is said to have occurred Sanghera had sent a book to Lord Lester and signed it with “love and admiration”.
Legal Cheek understands the report will now go back to the Lords Privileges Committee to work out what steps, if any, need to be taken next.
Blackstone Chambers has been contacted for comment.
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