Lord Reed and The Red Lion

Recent events

What a privilege we experienced today, having a fireside chat with the President of the Supreme Court, followed by a tour of the former Middlesex Guildhall, and a private lunch in The Red Lion’s Cabinet Room.

By invitation of the Master Paul Nash and Consort Sue, this trip was a mother/daughter exercise, organised by Erica Stary, Master Tin Plate Worker alias Wire Worker and Past Master Plumber, and Steward Philippa Stary, bringing the two Livery Companies together for a joint event to visit the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court is housed in what was originally Middlesex Guildhall. The historic county’s area was seceded into other administrative areas, and once the county ceased to exist, it no longer needed a Guildhall and the building in due course became Middlesex Crown Court.

The visit started in the Lawyers’ Suite, where we intermingled over hot drinks and pastries, before sitting around a square configuration of tables with the current President, Lord Reed, joining us, to kindly give a brilliant talk on the origins of the final Appeal Court, and its eventual conversion into the Supreme Court, and filled with personal anecdotes:

There then followed an informative tour by one of the Court’s guides, a trainee barrister, who guided us around the building, starting with two very different courtrooms. We entered first the modern-styled Courtroom 2, and before moving to the older neo-Gothic Courtroom 3, home of the Judicial Commitee of the Privy Council.

There was a lot of artwork on display, from newly commissioned to enhance the renovated building, to paintings by Gainsborough and Reynolds. Also new and old stained glass.

Lastly, we entered the magnificent Justices’ Library, which is not usually open to the public, as it is an active working library. This was my favourite part of the tour, looking at the historic books on display, and then stepping into an adjacent atrium, a light-filled conjunction of old and new architecture, turned into a reading room.

We then had the opportunity to enter Courtroom 1, which was in session hearing a landmark case about whether AI can own patent rights, with a computer scientist arguing he was entitled to patents over inventions created by his artificial intelligence system.

All the courtrooms are open to the public, for justice to be seen to be done, and all are built on one level, to facilitate discussion on arguable points of law. Also, the justices are not bewigged and gowned, so the nature of the courts is very different to any other courts in the UK.

The visit culminated in a jolly lunch at the Red Lion, a short distance away along Parliament Street, where we we had the basement Cabinet Room to ourselves and were treated very well by the staff.

As numbers were limited, and the event sold out quickly, it is hoped that another visit can be arranged.

Steward Philippa Stary