Trial by a jury of your peers is a current maxim of English Law and has come under scrutiny with the outcome of the case of the Colston 4 who were found not guilty of criminal damage to the statue of Edward Colston in Bristol.
Jury trial is not an invention of English law nor is it peculiar to our legal system. It dates back to ancient Greece, the Roman Empire and Islamic law. However it is now an integral part of the English criminal justice system; enshrined in Magna Carta and beloved of jurists.
The Old Bailey has played a significant role in the development of the jury system. It had been the case until the 17th century that juries were led by or expected to find as the Judge directed. A case of conscience came to the Old Bailey in 1670 when two Quakers who were preaching to a crowd in Gracechurch Street in the City were charged with unlawful assembly. The jury would not find them guilty and the Judge was incensed and locked the jury up without food, water or heating until they came to a “ verdict that the court will accept”. One of the defendants was the famous William Penn (later to be founder of Pennsylvania) and he shouted to the jury “You are Englishmen, mind your privilege give not away your right”. After two days the jury still stood firm and so the Judge accepted the determination but fined the jury for contempt of court and they were sent to prison until they paid the fine. One juror was Edward Bushell who petitioned for a write of habeas corpus – against unlawful detention. This went to the Court of the Chief Justice who determined that the jury could not be punished simply on account of the verdict it returned. Thus enshrining the right to the conscience of the jury to convict or acquit as they saw fit.
Sometimes referred to as a perverse verdict, the same situation arose in 1984 when civil servant Clive Ponting who had leaked papers about the sinking of the Belgrano in the Falklands War was acquitted by a jury in Court 1 at the Old Bailey. He had been charged under the Official Secrets Act and the Judge had directed the jury to convict him as he did not deny that he handed the papers to the MP concerned but pleaded as defence that the release of the papers was in the public interest. The jury acquitted.
Both these previous cases have resonance with the trial and outcome of the Colston 4. There are some technical legal issues around the Colston case that I will not unpick fully here but it is clear in all cases that the prosecution need to prove their case “beyond reasonable doubt” or so that the jury is sure. In the case of criminal damage the defendants can legally raise the issue of a lawful excuse as to what they did (which, in turn, the prosecution also need to disprove). But there is a further aspect to this case that echoes that of Bushell and that is the right of freedom of thought and conscience. Rights that are now guaranteed in the European Convention on Human Rights but did exist in the 17th century as well. Indeed the interplay of the Convention and the English law was a key element in a recent Supreme Court case of DPP- vs– Ziegler in 2021 and others so there is very current judicial opinion on this question. The Ziegler case concerned a protest against an arms fair in London and, in summary, decided that the Court is required to consider whether convicting the defendants would represent a proportionate interference with the exercise of those human rights.
On 25th November I was invited to be the principle guest and speaker at the Broad Street Ward Club and enjoyed crafting a speech that pointed up the rivalry with my own Ward of Dowgate but also the interconnectedness of the City and our friendly links. My speech as delivered:
"It is such a delight to be here in person in this historic 12th century crypt of the Guildhall and be able to celebrate this annual Broad Street Ward Club lunch.
Thank you Chairman for this invite and on behalf of my consort Glenn and all your guests, thank you for this wonderful lunch.
I am one of the not so new Sheriffs in town and am pleased to have a public chance to pay tribute to Alderman Professor Michael Mainelli and Christopher Hayward – both Broad Street stalwarts who both play an enormous part in the City in their existing roles but then as Sheriffs - two termers – they were vital in keeping the City functioning and encouraging the return and support that is proving so successful. They have both been tremendously helpful to me personally and I am very grateful to them as should the whole City
It is just as well we are here in the Guildhall – sort of neutral territory between Broad Street and my Ward of Dowgate as we have a few issues to resolve between us.
I know from my research that Broad St claims Richard /Dick Whittington as your own. But, of course he lived in Dowgate - my Ward and we have the blue plaque to prove it. His will left money to the Church of St Michael Paternoster Royal in my Ward and also to provide 64 latrines - I am glad to say that there was no gendered thinking in the 15th century as there were 32 long drops for men and an equal number for women – built on the boundary of my Ward. We in Dowgate have always led the way in hygiene and safety with the Cleansing station for the City neatly at the outpouring of the River Walbrook into the Thames. That tributary is the boundary of my Ward and the rubbish dump is safely on the Vintry side.
Talking of water – you claim the Plumbers as one of your Livery Companies but they started in Dowgate where their Hall stood until Cannon Street Station bulldozed it down and we hold dear both a sign as to the Hall’s erstwhile location, as well as the wonderful Plumbers’ apprentice statue on the station concourse.
You might claim that St Margaret Lothbury is at least partly in Broad St but in fact the Glovers Livery ( my mother livery) lay claim to this with our stained glass window and my long term friendship with Rector Jeremy Crossley dating back to our university days.
Well all of this goes to show not that we want to start an argument but that the history and current workings of the City are so intertwined and enmeshed. We can share these links.
The Church’s doors are, I am sure Jeremy would say, open to all; the history of Dick Whittington is universal of rags to riches and fits very well the new Lord Mayor’s theme of people and purpose: investing in a better tomorrow ….
His aim under the banner of “People” is to make sure that we invest in the skills which the City needs, and that all people have the opportunity to thrive and progress in their careers.
Not just getting in, but getting on.
A foot in the door leading to them climbing up the ladder as well.
This chimes so well with our shared history of Dick Whittington making good.
As to the plumbers we can share the pipework - I can take the female fittings and you the male – as despite your name there are no broads in Broad St – or at least none as elected members this side of the upcoming Common Council elections. So let me give a plug to the new electoral role and encourage all of you with businesses in the City to sign up without delay to the new register – you have until 16 December and maybe that will bring in both new voters and new candidates – the City wants to create a wider diversity whilst not losing our excellent members who have a lot more to give to this wonderful City. This is all on the City’s website under #SpeakupfortheCity.
I have been speaking up today for this wonderful City as I do daily in my work as an Alderman and Sheriff. Thank you for listening – if you were – and can I ask you to rise to drink a toast
To the Broad Street Ward Club"
How did it all turn out?
“Hopes unfulfilled but not buried” said Antonio Guterres the UN Secretary General. He went on “The COP26 deal is a compromise reflecting the interests contradictions and state of political will in the world today. It’s an important step but it’s not enough. It’s time to go into emergency mode. The climate battle is the fight of our lives and that fight must be won”
What are the negative elements?
The need was for the Nationally Determined Contributions to meet the 1.5 degree limit to temperature and that was not achieved. The pledges leave us somewhere around 1.8 degrees. What we do have is a commitment to come back next year at COP27 to revise these to be more ambitious to meet 1.5 degrees. Let us hope that nations step up to this requirement.
Secondly, whilst the Glasgow Climate Pact is the first ever climate deal to explicitly plan to reduce coal, the worst fossil fuel for greenhouse gases, the draft proposal was prepared stating that there would be a phase out of coal and this was, at the last minute, rephrased to “phase down” and gave specifically India and China a let out. Both this outcome and the fact that the deal was renegotiated at the last minute left Alok Sharma the COP President choking away tears at this manoeuvring.
For balance, I should state that the UN’s Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, responsible for $10 trillion in assets, committed to phase out most thermal coal assets by 2030 for industrialized countries and worldwide by 2040. Thirty-three GFANZ members are now part of the Powering Past Coal Alliance, with 11 new firms joining at COP26.
More than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal, in pledges made at the COP26 climate summit.
The final deal promises more funds for developing countries - to help them adapt to climate impacts.
Money talks and this is another area where the nations had not met the target set in Paris - which was that the richer countries agreed that the poorer countries would receive at least $100bn (£75bn) a year from 2020, from public and private sources, to help them cut emissions and cope with the impacts of the climate crisis. But by 2019, the latest year for which data is available, only $80bn had flowed.
Developing countries are angered by this, which was reflected at the talks, and have now been promised that increases will follow in the next five years that will bring the finance for the next five years to $500bn. Crucially, they also want more of the cash to be spent on assisting in adaptation, rather than just cutting emissions. In the end, the text agreed to double the proportion of climate finance going to adaptation.
Let’s look at the good elements - 1.5 degrees is still alive as an aim. The Glasgow Climate Pact has put science and nature front and centre, and galvanized global efforts behind 1.5°C, with a focus on the 45% emissions cuts needed this decade by 2030. It has also called for doubling adaptation finance and acknowledged the importance of addressing loss and damage also known as reparations, an initial step forward for the most climate-vulnerable communities.
Glasgow has helped to bring the non-state actor and government agendas closer together, focused on the specific solutions needed to decarbonise key sectors and build resilience. At COP26, we have seen positively reinforcing actions by sub-national governments, industry, and finance. On the Monday after COP, the FT headline suggested that business is disappointed at the lack of government ambition and so these non-state actors will be part of the drive to push for more pledges and commitment in the years to come.
Let’s see how this looks
• there has been a breakthrough commitment to end deforestation, with 133 world leaders responsible for around 90% of the world’s forests promising to end and reverse deforestation by 2030, plus 33 financial institutions with $8.7 trillion in assets under management, committing to tackle deforestation in the 2020s.
• a major agreement on methane speeds up our potential for deep short-term cuts to deliver on climate goals, as one of the most effective immediate actions to reduce near-term global warming.
• the end of the combustion engine is in sight, as national governments, cities, states and major businesses have agreed to end the sale of internal combustion engines by 2035 in leading markets.
• mainstream private finance is publicly committed to transforming the economy for net zero. Through the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero, over 450 firms across 45 countries are now committed to set robust, near-term science-based targets to halve their fair share of emissions by 2030 This accounts for over $130 trln dollars.
• nearly 8,000 non-state actors have committed to halving emissions by 2030 as part of Race to Zero, as the UN Climate Champions launch a 5-year plan to deepen engagement with regional stakeholders, enhance the implementation of non-state actors’ commitments, and develop tools for accountability across mitigation, finance and adaptation.
The technical groundwork has been laid to enable enforcement of sustainability standards and resilience actions, with the launch of International Sustainability Standards Board promoted by the IFRS. This is something that the City of London has been keen to support and will be essential to stop claims of greening being only superficial or inaccurate
• A new metrics framework for measuring resilience, for the first time, allows cities, regions, businesses and investors to measure the progress of their work in building resilience to climate change for the 4 billion people most at risk by 2030.
• In the UK Rishi Sunak announced that he would be making net zero transition plans mandatory for UK financial institutions and listed companies by 2023.
A lot has happened and I want to stay positive. I believe that finance has a big role to play both to urge Governments to do more and to ensure the transition works across all nations. And it needs to work fairly and equitably.
Mark Carney the UN and UK envoy said “People will no longer tolerate worthy statements followed by futile gestures. They won’t settle for governments making announcements at summits that they don’t meet at home, or companies that speak green but don’t act.That’s why we’ve worked to transform the heart of finance.”
That work is still in process with the City Corporation and the Green Finance Institute alongside Government and businesses.
The week started as the meeting of the G20 countries was concluding and leaders were leaving Rome for Glasgow. The UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, left Rome “with my hopes unfulfilled, but at least they are not buried."
I wonder how he feels now at the end of the first week of COP26? There have been many useful announcements:
On coal - more than 40 countries have committed to shift away from coal, in pledges made at the summit and by the UN’s Net Zero Asset Owner Alliance, responsible for $10 trillion in assets. They have committed to phase out most thermal coal assets by 2030 for industrialized countries and worldwide by 2040. Major coal-using countries including Poland, Vietnam and Chile are among those to make this pledge.
On trees - 133 countries from Albania to Zimbabwe endorsed the declaration on forest and land use, committing to collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030.
On methane - 106 nations signed a joint U.S.-European Union pledge to collectively reduce global methane emissions 30% below 2020 levels by 2030.
On finance – this the first COP to consider the issue of financing the transition. An acknowledgement that public finance alone cannot pay for all that is needed and the financial world wants to step up. This is led largely by Mark Carney, Former Governor of the Bank of England and UN special adviser. His drive has led to the focus this year and that has been matched by the engagement of the financial world and a main driver for the City of London Corporation. The formation of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) has brought together businesses with more than $130trn (£95trn) of private capital which "is now committed to transforming the economy for net zero". In total, 450 firms controlling 40% of global financial assets have agreed to commit to limit global warming to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels.
The UK is showing leadership here with the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, stating that London would become the first financial centre committed to net zero. This is alongside making mandatory disclosures of exposure to climate risks (TCFD) and committing £100 million of funding into the developing world to help them take up these financial offers.
Despite these pledges and the Nationally Determined Contributions that the attending nations need to provide, the goal of only a 1.5 degree temperature rise is not yet in sight. It is considered to be on track for slightly less than 2 degrees. At the same time the Pacific leaders are calling for developed nations to cut emissions by 50% by 2030 – forcing the pace since a commitment to 2050, 2060 or 2070 needs marker points on the way in order to be accountable. Hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Glasgow and other Cities around the world to press home this point that the leaders of nations are not acting fast enough.
Let’s see if week 2 can deliver more.
I will be attending COP26 on Thursday 11 November – the day committed to “Cities, Regions and Built Environment” - advancing action in the places we live, from communities, through to cities and regions. I will be pleased to talk about the work of the City of London Corporation’s Climate Action Strategy and our plans for this City. https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/environmental-health/climate-action/climate-action-strategy
I approach COP26 positively, as I am basically an optimistic person. I feel I have travelled a long time alone on this journey but now the nations, business and civil society are speaking up and taking action. Of this there is no doubt. The concern is whether they are going to do enough and fast enough. The many competing political and diplomatic issues (Brexit and French fisheries) are distractions from the important goal for our planet. Scientific reports are scary and compel action. There are only faint cries from naysayers and so they cannot account for any significant delay. Chatham House produced a Climate Change Risk Assessment 2021 https://www.chathamhouse.org/2021/09/climate-change-risk-assessment-2021 in September that clearly stated that the world was dangerously off track to meet the Paris Agreement goals ; the risks are compounding and without immediate action there will be devastating impacts in the coming decades. The UK Government is the key mover in this diplomacy with the President of COP, Cabinet Minister Alok Sharma, in place to deliver this. Last week Prime Minister Boris Johnson was managing expectations (down) on the likely outcome and the Government’s own preparation and purpose has been less than joined up. By and large the post Covid assistance to business was not tempered by climate or environmental regulation and so an opportunity was lost to embed such good behaviour and work patterns. This is a huge opportunity for Britain to lead the world and surge out of the gloom of Covid and Brexit and show itself a leader on the world’s stage.
I see the opportunity here for the City of London. As the leader in green finance, the City has an economic environment with deep and trusted capital funds and professional expertise, to show how private finance can work alongside public and international funds to help the transition and create a resilient world. This should help answer the question who should pay as our finance systems are rewired – financing green and creating green finance.
The Sheriff’s authority is represented by the three stranded chain and the City’s coat of arms. The jewel, or badge, is a frolic allowed to the Sheriff to express their own coat of arms, interests and supporters. A chance to shimmer as a Sheriff.
I chose to have the collar and jewel designed by Dave Harper of W.H.Darby, working in consultation with Wynyard Wilkinson of the Company of Arts Scholars. The actual fabrication of the jewel was carried out by Martyn Wykes and his British-trained team.
My coat of arms is engulfed by mobius strips that speak to my activity and energy and show the paradox that abounds in life, needing us to look at things in different ways.
The prominent shields are of my Livery Companies - the Glovers, Plaisterers, Solicitors and Chartered Surveyors. My position as an honorary Upholder is marked by the eider duck that also notes my interest in birds. The flame represents both my position as honorary Fueller and Methodism in linking to the Aldersgate Flame of John Wesley, commemorated in the bronze flame outside the Museum of London where I am both a trustee of the Flame and of the Museum. Methodism still burns in my heart. As an Honorary Constructor, six links are golden bricks referencing the construction business and my professional life as a City commercial real estate lawyer.
The shields of the Vintry and Dowgate Wards Club alongside the City Livery Club and The Royal Society of St George are organisations where I have undertaken the leading role and promoted the City to a wider audience.
Durham University and Van Mildert College are essential to my backstory and the Palatinate Purple background underpins the central jewel. My motto Sic Vos Non Vobis is my College motto taken from Virgil and translates as “Not for (Y)ourselves”, indicating my wish to serve selflessly but alongside others (not alone).
Between the jewel and the chain is London Bridge – an enduring symbol of the City representing the philanthropy that flowed from Londoners towards the bridge and still emanates today from the City Bridge Trust where I served as Chair.
The coat of arms was designed by William Hunt working with John Petrie, Windsor Herald. As an unmarried woman my coat of arms must be displayed on a lozenge; neither shield nor crest is allowed, being martial devices. The formal description of the coat of arms is:
Per fess Argent and Sable on a Pale engrailed counterchanged in chief two Billets palewise in pale Or between two St Cuthbert’s Crosses Purpure and in base a Sword erect Gules between four Billets palewise in pale Or.
As the World watches the scenes in Afghanistan we will all be asking ourselves how can we help - those left behind in the country, those safely in the UK or another friendly nation and those in limbo?
I am pleased to hear that the organisations in the UK who are already involved with the Afghani community are working hard to address the imminent needs, but they will need more support and help as the demands are growing. Apart from statutory bodies such as national government and local authorities, civil society is also treating the situation with urgency and intent. As has been proved at other moments of major crisis ( 7/7 London bombings or Grenfell Tower) the help can best be given in collaboration with those nearest the need and ideally from an existing relationship with a trusted partner on the ground. London Funders (the umbrella body for all London funding trusts, endowments corporates and local authorities) called a meeting last week to co-ordinate the response and share thoughts. Exchanging knowledge and intelligence about the issues is critical so that the best actions can be taken. I anticipate good actions will now follow. Specialist groups understanding immigration, legal and language needs are critical as well as being able to negotiate the bureaucracy of the funding and housing provision that is being offered.
Help can be provided in several ways:
Raising money for displaced people in Afghanistan, in the UK and in between. As with all such donations they need to be given to the right organisation who has the ability to use this wisely and are credible in their aims
Supporting resettled people arriving in the UK (2,000 people arrived early last week, others will follow and many are likely to gravitate to London). At present 60% of the UK’s 250,000 residents of Afghan origin live in Greater London.
Working to integrate people through housing advice, language classes, mentoring, social and cultural support, legal advice, immigration advice and well as support with paperwork
Working with other organisations in lobbying the Home Office to allow more Afghans into the UK or provide help in other ways
I know that the City Bridge Trust is one of the funders reviewing the needs and supporting their grantees working in this area. My law firm is providing pro bono advice to new arrivals on legal and administrative matters. Many other initiatives are in hand. Responding to this crisis and welcoming those in need into our neighbourhood and communities will be a mark of our humanity. Let us all hope that the UK can deliver on this.
Extract from my speech to the City Livery Club Women in the Livery Lunch August 2nd 2021 on the topic of the City and Environmental Social and Governance Issues, hosted by Mei Sim Lai.
You will hardly have been able to avoid talk on all media about the upcoming climate conference COP26 in November that the UK are hosting in Glasgow. A time for all nations to reassess their progress towards the goals set by them in Paris in 2015 and to pledge anew in the context of our current understanding of the world’s climate as we establish how far we are along the road and how we will need to redouble our efforts.
It is in that context that I am working with others at the City Corporation to promote the work of the financial city and the opportunity that COP highlights to work with government and other international organisations and multilateral development banks to drive this agenda and help fund the transition needed to reduce carbon emissions and minimise the likely temperature rise.
The City Corporation has these matters firmly in hand, first of all in walking the talk with its own Climate Action Strategy reviewing all its operations as well as its investment strategies for its properties and financial investments.
Working closely with the Green Finance Institute, where I am the vice chair, we are planning and indeed already actively involved in the COP26 programme. The City are hosting a pavilion at COP26 and putting on a parallel real and virtual programme in Glasgow and London working with significant sponsors and in alignment with the Government departments. Branded as part of the Green Horizon series it will be a very visible contribution by the City and its leading businesses. This programme will continue after November as we deliver what has been promised
We also continue the international promotion of the City as a global hub for business and only last month I spoke at the Saudi British Investment forum on green finance and tomorrow lead a session with Latin America on the same topic of disclosure and compliance issues.
This drive towards net zero is wider than purely environmental matters. It involves Environmental Social and Governance matters ESG. A recent survey said that 66% of investors said London was world-leading or one of the world’s best cities in tackling ESG issues. Clearly an important feather in the cap of the City and the UK. However the absence of consensus, data and the ability to track these measures could cause some backlash or rightful criticism of claims that investments might turn out to be unverifiable. The City is keen to see a consensus on this taxonomy.
The initiative launched by Mark Carney under the Taskforce for Climate Related Financial Disclosure means that UK businesses are now either required due to their size or regulatory regime or are voluntarily considering the climate impact of all their actions and reporting thereon. This is being taken up internationally and other initiatives are gaining momentum.
Whilst the S is less easily measurable, work is progressing here at the Impact Investing Institute has been set up with the City Corporation with private support and government funding to drive this work – such as help in funding the rebuilding of the new City YMCA where the social impact of such provision was as relevant an outcome as the interest rate on the loan.
As to the G in governance – well I am a lawyer and so I like to think that how a corporate is governed is considered to impact the performance. This leads into the area of good processes, board composition and the inevitable need for diversity ( of thought) and engagement and communication with stakeholders.
This interplay of good behaviours should all work together and the E the S and G don’t need to conflict with each other.
Since this is a women in the livery event with a predominance of females present let me mention an argument and a hypothesis that I like the sound of that blends the social with the climate impact.
In low- and middle-income countries the fact of gender discrimination means that adolescent girls living in poverty are often the most vulnerable to the impact of climate change. This includes disruptions to their education, increasing their time in poverty, and with the risk of early and forced child marriage. Yet, ensuring that girls receive a proper quality of education can resolve this. Indeed, research suggests that girls’ education can strengthen not only their life chances but also climate strategies in three ways:
First by empowering girls and advancing their reproductive health and rights. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates suggest that together with family planning, girls’ education has the potential of avoiding nearly 85 gigatons of carbon emissions by 2050.
Education will help girls participate in climate leadership and pro-environmental decision-making – look at the women and young women taking leading roles on climate issues around the world.
And thirdly education will develop girls’ green skills for green jobs. We all know that girls are underrepresented in STEM ( science technology engineering and maths ) yet in pursuing a new green learning agenda, girls can have the opportunity to develop the skills not only to participate in green jobs and so help to redefine and transform our economic systems.
Would that not be a great social outcome for all those young women as well as for the climate? To me that is what ESG can lead to in so many real life situations.
I would argue that the way that we operate as individuals or within our businesses organisations and livery companies we can play a part however small and ensure that we prepare for a potentially very different future environment
My reasoning is that it is good for the planet, for people and for profit. I don’t need to be a goody two shoes I need to be a hard-nosed financier/lawyer who sees the future and wants to be investing in it.
I want the City of London to return to a more normal working pattern with people coming into their offices and engaging in our vibrant city. Shops, restaurants, bars and gyms as well as wonderful iconic cultural venues like the Barbican are open and waiting to greet everyone again. However the clean air benefits of the nearly empty streets over the last year -which recorded much lower air pollution -are in danger of being lost if the return to the City also leads to a return to smoggy air. I now have asthma in my adult life and must accept that this probably arose from City living some 10 years ago. Taking some simple steps can make a difference wherever we live or work. https://www.sustrans.org.uk/our-blog/get-active/2020/in-your-community/10-things-you-can-do-to-help-reduce-air-pollution-today The City of London Corporation has led the way in monitoring air quality and then taking steps to create green spaces such as the new public park at Aldgate or through planning conditions encouraging green roofs ( the most green roofs proportionately than in any other City) and in providing electric vehicle charging points. The fleet of cleansing vehicles keeping our streets so tidy is all electric. There is a strong engagement with the City businesses who are themselves concerned about the impact on the health of their employees and the CityAir Business Programme https://www.cityoflondon.gov.uk/services/environmental-health/air-quality/air-quality-business-engagement is a great way for businesses to find out what more they can do. It’s time to return to the City and enjoy all that makes it the best place to work live and visit and to breathe #london #cleanair #returntotheCity.
Following my election as one of the two Sheriffs of the City of London on 24 June, I am planning my year’s engagement with the City, the UK and internationally. The role of the Sheriff is to support the Lord Mayor and the City of London and to oversee the administration of the Old Bailey and promote the rule of law (arguably the historic role of the Sheriff is to supervise the delivery of justice in the Square Mile). This is in addition to working alongside the City Corporation in alignment with the corporate plan and initiatives.
Whilst the photograph of me shows the formal and ceremonial dress on the very important occasion of the Election of the Sheriffs in Common Hall by the Livery, the role is wider and more influential than this might show. The Sheriffs form part of the civic team with the Lord Mayor and working alongside the Chair of Policy and Resources – Catherine McGuinness who is the effective leader of the City Corporation. As a Sheriff I hope to join visits overseas and meet foreign delegations coming to London in order to promote the role of the City, its financial business and professional services.
The focus in the first quarter of my year of office will be the lead up to COP26. My role within the City Corporation working on the City’s own Climate Action Strategy and my position as non-executive director of the Green Finance Institute means that I will be promoting the role that the City can play in financing the much needed transition to net zero. There are many positive responses from Government, local authorities, business and civil society as well as the clamour of individuals who all want to play a part to create our greener and sustainable future.
The response of the City businesses to the Covid pandemic is still unfolding. The City Corporation is committed to the recovery of the ecosystem that makes the Square Mile the best place to work, live and visit. One element in the balance is the impact on commercial real estate and, as a property lawyer, I understand the drivers around the market and the cost of property to businesses but also the investment value that real estate has in our economy. Property has to serve the business needs. I see these changing with a greater emphasis on property needing to address the wellbeing of the occupiers and employees. There is a growing recognition of the importance of the public realm, ease of access and ambience that have always been hallmarks of, and the reasons why, people like working in the City. These need to be enhanced.
During my year of office I want to continue to champion the role of philanthropy. Many City businesses already understand their wider role in society and I want to ensure that businesses working with civil society and Government ( national and local) can address the inequalities in London and beyond that have been so exposed during the pandemic.
Whilst this might sound ambitious I hope that the elements of the role interest you and I look forward to a wide engagement – do get or keep in touch.