The year had a slightly delayed start because of the pandemic, but by mid-February we were beginning the slow road back. We have carried on re-building; sometimes progress has been slow, but it has been steady, and I hope the new legal year in October will see us fully back to ‘normal’.

July was a month full of the usual and vital events in the calendar. We Called 242 new members of the Bar. The ceremonies were a testament to the indomitable nature of the Bar: they were also very joyous occasions for the new members and their families.

Master Leveson held his Grand Day, late but wonderful, nonetheless. It was a proper celebration of all the hard work and dedication he has shown to the Inn over the years, particularly through the quiet and dark days of 2020.

We also held an Amity dinner for Gray’s Inn, again it was an evening of good food, good wine, and very good company. I was able to welcome my university tutor, my first six pupil master and my former head of chambers. Old friendships were renewed, and new ones made.

Of all the events we held in July, Bench Call was my favourite; a true highlight and a wonderful demonstration of all that is important to us, and about us. It showed our spirit of friendship, our constant aim to be inclusive and the remarkable pool of talent made up of our members and our friends. We Called Justice Ayesha Malik, a truly remarkable lawyer and the first woman to be appointed to the Supreme Court of Pakistan; Andrew Tyrie, a member of the House of Lords; David Allan, an Upper Tribunal judge; Tim Storrie, a criminal silk from Manchester; Joel Bennathan, a High Court Judge and Tony Peto, a commercial silk. All the new Benchers made wonderful speeches and, unfairly, I have chosen some parts of Master Tony Peto’s speech to illustrate all that is good about the Inn, the Bar, and the vital role we play in promoting the rule of law by educating and supporting members of the profession:

In November 1938 a man took his first step in this country. He brought little with him, but the marks of Nazi brutality, a fine mathematical talent, his violin, and a few mementoes of his doomed family.

One of the first things he did was to buy Law for the Layman. My father wanted to find out about the common law – the Englishman’s talisman.

We were brought up to believe that British democracy and the rule of law were precious and in need of protection.

I owe such a lot to the Middle Temple; my mother was on a widow’s pension; the Inn supported me; sponsored me; taught me; fed me; befriended me; gave me a haven and a home; Domus.

This Inn is a fortress for the Independent Bar. Without the Independent Bar to serve it, our independent judiciary would wither and die and with it the first hope and last refuge of us all; the hope which to this very day draws the hopeless and the helpless to these shores. That is why I thank the Inn.

Maura McGowan

Master Treasurer’s bio image: Copyright Chris Christodoulou