The Bar Standards Board is looking into the allegations of sexual harassment which ended Lord Lester's days in ermine, after he reported himself to the regulator.
Lester, a human rights lawyer at Blackstone Chambers, was accused by Jasvinder Sanghera, a campaigner against forced marriage, of harassing her a decade ago. The 82-year-old barrister resigned as a Liberal Democrat peer from the House of Lords this week before its privileges and conduct committee could complete a second review of his case.
Sanghera claimed that he kept missing the gearstick while driving her to his home and feeling her thigh instead, then forcibly hugged her and, when she declined his promise of a peerage in return for sex, threatened her career.
The committee's report initially recommended that Lord Lester should be expelled, but downgraded the sentence to a suspension until 2022. But then Lord Pannick, a fellow Blackstone barrister, won a vote in the Lords to refer the matter back to the committee. He said its commissioner, former Law Society President Lucy Scott-Montcrieff, failed to act "in accordance with the principles of natural justice and fairness". Lester stepped down before the committee could produce its new findings.
“Lord Lester has himself notified our regulator, the Bar Standards Board, of the existence of the House of Lords proceedings", Blackstone Chambers told RollOnFriday in a statement. "We will respect any decision it makes".
A spokesman for Blackstone Chambers stated that it takes "any allegations of sexual harassment made against members of Chambers or staff extremely seriously" and has "strict internal policies and procedures in place to ensure they are dealt with properly". He said that "no complaints have even been made to Chambers in relation to Lord Lester’s conduct". Holding the Lord slightly less close to the bosom, he also noted that Lord Lester "is a non-resident member of Chambers".
A spokesman for the BSB said it "does not comment as to whether or not individual barristers are the subject of a complaint or a disciplinary investigation".