Most Garrick Club members want to admit women for first time

The Garrick, where most members are now in favour of admitting women according to a poll (Fiona Hanson/PA)
The Garrick, where most members are now in favour of admitting women according to a poll (Fiona Hanson/PA)

Members at one of London's few remaining gentlemen's clubs have carried out an internal poll which reveals most are in favour of admitting women.

In a postal vote 51% of those members who participated indicated that they were in favour of admitting women, while 44% were opposed, according to the Guardian.

In total, 76% of the club’s membership took part in the ballot with 53 people - or 4% - saying they were undecided.

Christopher Coker, chair of the club near Covent Garden, emailed members with the polling result.

He wrote: “This has been a most helpful exercise and the general committee is extremely grateful to you all for your response. Quite clearly you are all engaged with the club and you care about it a great deal.”

He did not indicate how the club’s organising committee proposed to respond to the poll.

The poll comes after a senior barrister updated his earlier advice that the club's rules prohibited the admission of female members.

Michael Beloff KC gave the club revised legal advice which concluded there was no justification for excluding women.

The club's membership is reported to have included Supreme Court judges Lord Neuberger and Lord Sumption, actors Hugh Bonneville and Stephen Fry, and cabinet minister Michael Gove.

Actress and broadcaster Joanna Lumley was proposed as a member in 2011, prompting the club to take legal advice on the issue. She was not admitted.

White's, the Travellers Club, and Boodle’s are among the few remaining clubs like the Garrick that do not allow women.

Seth Alexander Thévoz, the author of Behind Closed Doors, a study of London clubs, said: “The younger members in historic clubs can be among the most traditionalist, joining because they want a sort of Victorian cosplay, whereas it’s often the older members who can be rather more liberal.”

The large number of senior lawyers who are Garrick members has sparked friction in the legal profession.

Human rights lawyer Dinah Rose KC told the Guardian: “If you’re a judge, publicly committed to the principle of equality, it is incompatible with that, to be a member of that type of club.”

The Garrick did not respond to a request for a comment.