Category: A Brush With The Law

British values, human values

Posted on June 26th, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments

The head of Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, has said that schools must do more to promote ‘British values.’

Curious as to what British values might be, beyond tea, politeness and weathering the weather, I checked up on what the Department for Education had said.

Government advice published in November 2014 defines an understanding of British values as follows:

• an understanding of how citizens can influence decision-making through the
democratic process;

• an appreciation that living under the rule of law protects individual citizens and is essential for their wellbeing and safety;

• an understanding that there is a separation of power between the executive and the judiciary, and that while some public bodies such as the police and the army can be held to account through Parliament, others such as the courts maintain independence;

• an understanding that the freedom to choose and hold other faiths and beliefs is protected in law;

• an acceptance that other people having different faiths or beliefs to oneself (or having none) should be accepted and tolerated, and should not be the cause of prejudicial or discriminatory behaviour; and

• an understanding of the importance of identifying and combatting discrimination.

This list has been widely summarised as:

The Rule of Law
Individual liberty
Mutual respect for … Read More »

Why we don’t need International Men’s Day

Posted on March 8th, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments

There have been a few comments on social media suggesting we need a day to celebrate men, amid all the IWD posts.

I have absolutely nothing against men.


In fact, I have a 21 year-old one who lives in my house, eats my food, spends my money and whose wellbeing, happiness and future are more important to me than my own.

But we still need feminism and we need every opportunity, such as IWD, to talk and educate about women’s rights.

Feminism is not about blaming or hating men. Both women and men are responsible for maintaining inequality through unconscious bias, unquestioning acceptance of patriarchal assumptions and failing to speak out when we do notice unfairness. I hold my hands up; I live in this society and although I try to be aware, and I care passionately about supporting change, I am sure that every day I say and do (or fail to say and do) things that maintain the status quo.

So just to make it clear, I have nothing against men. Their rights as human beings are important and in fact I spend a lot of my working life defending them.

Also there are some issues (not going into them today but I … Read More »

Women lawyers – juggling roles

Posted on February 7th, by Harriet in A Brush With The Law. No Comments

A Google search for statistics on women solicitors will tell you that over half of new lawyers are women but far fewer than this number are reaching the top of the profession. The reasons for this may be several but at least one is glaringly obvious. Those of us who have worked hard to qualify and then try to practise while looking after a family know all too well that juggling a legal career and caring responsibilities is hard.

My own story is characterised by what you might call extreme juggling. Soon after qualifying into criminal practice I was made redundant. I was the lone parent of a little boy who found school challenging and it wasn’t long before I was faced with an enormous decision. I took my teenage son out of school to home educate him, working as hard as I could to make ends meet by freelancing. Somehow, with family support and willpower, we managed. But as my son needed me less, my disabled mother needed me more. I swapped one caring role for another and the juggling became, if anything, more difficult.

Things are slightly different now, with my son at College and my mother needing professional … Read More »