Anthony Lester, Baron Lester of Herne Hill

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The Lord Lester of Herne Hill

Official portrait of Lord Lester of Herne Hill crop 2.jpg
Lord Lester of Herne Hill's official parliamentary photo
Member of the House of Lords
Lord Temporal
In office
13 October 1993 – 12 December 2018
Life Peerage
Personal details
Born (1936-07-03) 3 July 1936 (age 83)
OccupationPolitician, lawyer

Anthony Paul Lester, Baron Lester of Herne Hill, QC (born 3 July 1936) is a British barrister and former member of the House of Lords.[1] He is a former member of the Labour Party, Social Democratic Party, and the Liberal Democrats.

Early life and education[edit]

Lester was born into a Jewish family[2] and was educated at the City of London School, he then studied history and law at Trinity College, Cambridge, and Harvard Law School, graduating with Bachelor of Arts and Master of Laws degrees respectively.[3]

Legal career[edit]

Lester was called to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1963[3] and took silk in 1975.[4] In 1987, he was appointed to be a recorder[5][6][7] and was in office until 1993;[3] as a barrister he works from Blackstone Chambers. He was appointed adjunct professor of the Faculty of Law at University College Cork in 2005.

Race relations[edit]

In the 1960s and 1970s Lester was directly involved with the drafting of race relations legislation in Britain. During these periods, he acted as the chair of the legal subcommittee of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination (C.A.R.D.) and was a member of several organisations working for racial equality such as the Society of Labour Lawyers, Fabian Society, Council of the Institute of Race Relations, British Overseas Socialist Fellowship and the National Committee for Commonwealth Immigrants.[8] In 1968, he co-founded the Runnymede Trust think-tank with Jim Rose, he was chairman of the Runnymede Trust from 1991 to 1993.

Special adviser[edit]

He was a special adviser to Roy Jenkins at the Home Office in the 1970s, and moved with Jenkins from the Labour Party to found the SDP in 1981. On 29 June 2007, Lester was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as a special adviser on constitutional reform to the Secretary of State for Justice.[9] Lester is a member of the Joint Committee on Human Rights.

Family Planning Association[edit]

Lester is a patron of the Family Planning Association, previously called the National Birth Control Committee, he represented the FPA in a contentious case in Northern Ireland where it was widely claimed that the FPA were trying to use strategic litigation to introduce liberalised abortion laws into the country.


Lester's peerage was announced on 13 August 1993,[10] he was raised to the peerage as Baron Lester of Herne Hill, of Herne Hill in the London Borough of Southwark on 13 October 1993.[11][12]

Until a sexual harassment complaint was made in February 2018 Lord Lester sat as a Liberal Democrat.[13]

On 12 November 2018, the House of Lords Committee for Privileges and Conduct made a recommendation that Lord Lester be suspended from the House of Lords until June 2022 as a result of a complaint of sexual harassment[14] from Jasvinder Sanghera.[15] On 15 November 2018, on a vote (101–78) on the floor of the House of Lords, the recommendation of the Committee was not accepted. Members supporting Lord Lester alleged, and the House duly supported the relevant amendment proposed by Lord Pannick QC, that the Commissioner for Standards had failed to comply with paragraph 21 of the relevant Code of Conduct which required her to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness.[16][17]

After Lord Pannick’s amendment was passed, so that the matter was remitted to the Committee, the Senior Deputy Speaker of the House (the Chairman of the Committee) expressed his disappointment at the decision of the House and gave his opinion that the Commissioner had "followed the processes as agreed by the House and that have not been questioned before today."[18]. He also expressed his sympathy for the complainant, although the matter had just been remitted for fair reconsideration of whether her allegations were correct; the fairness of the procedures had in fact been questioned prior to the debate. The report of the Commissioner for Standards addressed various criticisms, without accepting that they were justified. Further, the report itself included as an annex the opinion of David Perry QC which made and analysed various express criticisms of the fairness of the procedures, and the Commissioner had duly responded.[14]

Lord Lester of Herne Hill resigned from the House of Lords on 12 December 2018,[19] he said that he didn't have the strength or health to continue, after the Committee disagreed with the House on procedural issues of the investigation and renewed the recommendation of his suspension until June 2022.[20]

In April 2019 he joined The Independent Group.

Styles of address[edit]

  • 1936–1975: Mr Anthony Lester
  • 1975–1993: Mr Anthony Lester QC
  • 1993–: The Rt Hon. The Lord Lester of Herne Hill QC

Personal life[edit]

Lester is the father of Gideon Lester and of Maya Lester QC.[21]


  1. ^ "Lord Lester of Herne Hill". UK Parliament. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  2. ^ Gloger, Dana (11 July 2008). "Aye! To 150 years of Jewish MPs". The Jewish Chronicle.
  3. ^ a b c "Anthony Paul Lester, Baron Lester of Herne Hill". The Peerage. Retrieved 3 January 2017.
  4. ^ "No. 46547". The London Gazette. 18 April 1975. p. 5024.
  5. ^ "No. 51106". The London Gazette. 29 October 1987. p. 13339.
  6. ^ "No. 51112". The London Gazette. 5 November 1987. p. 13635.
  7. ^ "No. 51117". The London Gazette. 11 November 1987. p. 13885.
  8. ^ Heineman, Benjamin W. (1972). The Politics of the Powerless: A Study of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination. London, UK: Oxford University Press. p. 157.
  9. ^ "Brown unveils new faces". 29 June 2007. Archived from the original on 1 July 2007.
  10. ^ "No. 53400". The London Gazette. 13 August 1993. p. 13487.
  11. ^ "No. 53461". The London Gazette. 19 October 1993. p. 16771.
  12. ^ "No. 23463". The Edinburgh Gazette. 19 October 1993. p. 3217.
  13. ^ "Peer faces suspension over sex claims case". BBC News. 12 November 2018. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  14. ^ a b Committee for Privileges and Conduct (2018). The conduct of Lord Lester of Herne Hill (PDF). House of Lords. HL Paper 220.
  15. ^ Elgot, Jessica; Walker, Peter (13 November 2018). "Lord Lester harassment victim urges others to speak out". The Guardian. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  16. ^ Mikhailova, Anna (14 November 2018). "Up to 100 peers expected to try and block Lord Lester's suspension for sexual harassment". The Telegraph. Retrieved 15 November 2018.
  17. ^ "Committee for Privileges and Conduct: Division 1". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Lords. 15 November 2018.
  18. ^ Hartley-Parkinson, Richard (16 November 2018). "Anger as House of Lords blocks suspension of Lord Lester of Herne Hill". Metro. Retrieved 16 November 2018.
  19. ^ "Lord Lester of Herne Hill". UK Parliament.
  20. ^ "Lord Lester resigns from the House of Lords ahead of suspension vote". Irish Legal News. 12 December 2018. Retrieved 13 December 2018.
  21. ^ Trindle, Jamila (2 May 2014). "Can I Pay You in Rubles?". FP.

External links[edit]

  • Odysseus Trust – supporting the work of Anthony Lester in the House of Lords
Party political offices
Preceded by
Brian Abel-Smith
Treasurer of the Fabian Society
Succeeded by
Giles Radice
Preceded by
Peter Hall
Chair of the Fabian Society
Succeeded by
Frank Judd
Orders of precedence in the United Kingdom
Preceded by
The Lord Dixon-Smith
Baron Lester of Herne Hill
Followed by
The Lord Tugendhat