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.
On June 24th 2021 at the meeting of the Livery in Common Hall in Guildhall in the City of London I was elected as one of the two Sheriffs of the City of London to serve for one year commencing on September 28th 2021. At the election I was permitted to make a short speech of acceptance in which I agreed to serve in this office and spoke of my intentions. I also thanked my Livery Companies for their support. The text of my speech is here:
I am honoured and delighted to have been elected today to serve as one of the two sheriffs of the City of London in this ancient legal role. I have great pleasure in accepting the office of Sheriff. I pledge to serve this City my Lord Mayor and you the Livery during my year’s tenure and thereafter. And thank you for your support and the confidence you place in me.
I am equally pleased to have this opportunity to work alongside the Recorder Common Serjeant and Judges at the Old Bailey and assist them in every way that I can in the delivery of the finest judicial system in the world, upholding the values of this City and this nation of integrity, independence and fairness exemplified in the rule of law.
Surveying this fine assembly ( albeit reduced in size – I like to think that there is nothing wrong in being small) you indeed fuel my imagination with the many aspects of the City’s life in which I am determined to engage and champion. The Livery Companies have shown their resilience and sustainability over the centuries and just to pick one area of my expertise - the challenge of climate change is now the opportunity for the City and Livery once again to raise their game and repurpose their aims and I solicit your assistance in this.
I look forward to working hand in glove with my good friend and colleague Alderman Nick Lyons and know we will work together with vigour and with much fun. I thank my Livery Companies whom I have each - bar one- referenced obliquely in this speech – did you catch their names as used in common parlance? But I struggled to casually mention The Plaisterers and I certainly hope I do not end up too often…… plas..
Subject thereto I set forth now with determination to serve.
My Lord Mayor