I wanted to be a Spy

Published 25th January 2019

I come from a mining community in Scotland. My parents and Grandparents were very involved in the NUM, and my father, in particular was very driven by the need to extinguish inequality of any kind. In his world view, education was power if you were working class, and that equality would be achieved through knowledge. he told me from an early age that I was going to be a lawyer. I was devastated as I had my own dreams and plans. I wanted to be a spy. He was horrified and told me ‘we’ve never had a spy in the family, lassie’. I pointed out that we had never had a lawyer either, and that even his Mother was a pit head worker, but there was no knocking him back on this..

I agreed to study law to please him, thinking it would probably come in handy once I was a spy, anyway. Some how, during the process, I realised that women, and I particular BME women were really discriminated against, and that I should do something about that.

After University, I worked as a legal researcher for a year for LAG, researching the effectiveness of Non Molestation injunctions. Through the process, I met a group of very feisty Black women working in the VAWG sector, and decided I wanted to be like them when I grew up. I did finals, then started working with their clients. Over 30 years, I have specialised in working with BME women and children who are fleeing all forms of abuse including harmful cultural practice. I have also campaigned for Publicly funded legal services – including giving evidence about LASPO at the UN.
Last year, my brother told me that he was proud of me and that I had ‘continued what Dad started’. I was gobsmacked, and very moved.
I love my work, I love my clients and working in the law, for this niche group, has been a total privilege and a pleasure.
Maybe I’ll be a Spy when I retire.

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