Garrick Club ‘votes to accept female members’

The Garrick Club has voted to allow women to become members for the first time, it has been reported.

The central London private members’ Club has been strictly male-only since it was founded in 1831.

But a vote to allow female members passed with 59.98% of votes in favour at the end of a private meeting, The Guardian reported.

The newspaper said actor Stephen Fry and journalist James Naughtie were among those who gave speeches arguing for the admission of women.

The private members’ club has faced scrutiny over its diversity in recent weeks after The Guardian said it had published the membership list, which it claimed included the King, Deputy Prime Minister Oliver Dowden and Sir Richard Moore, the head of MI6.

In March, Cabinet Secretary Simon Case – the head of the civil service – quit the club just a day after being questioned by MPs about his involvement in the institution.

Mr Case had previously suggested it would be “easier” to change the all-male organisation “from within rather than chuck rocks from the outside”.

In April, a High Court judge was removed from overseeing a case involving an alleged rape victim due to his membership of the Garrick Club.

Sir Jonathan Cohen was due to hear a family court case involving a dispute between a mother and father over their son’s care, with the woman accusing the man of domestic abuse and controlling and coercive behaviour.

She applied for Sir Jonathan to step back from her case, claiming she would feel “prejudiced” due to his membership.

A different High Court judge decided that Sir Jonathan should not hear the case due to his club membership, adding that the father was also a “regular visitor”.

The court heard that “at no stage” have the mother’s allegations against the father been determined.

The Guardian has reported that several High Court judges and dozens of barristers are members of the Garrick Club.

The Garrick Club has been approached for comment.