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Lester Papers

Identity Statement

Reference code(s): GB 0103 LESTER
Held at: University College London
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Full title: Lester Papers
Date(s): 1964-2015
Level of description: Collection (fonds)
Extent: 30 boxes
Name of creator(s): Lester of Herne Hill; Anthony Paul Lester (1936-2020); Baron
Detailed catalogue: Click here to view repository detailed catalogue


Administrative/Biographical history:

Born 3 July 1936; educated at the City of London School and Trinity College Cambridge (Exhibitioner); BA; Harvard Law School (Harkness Commonwealth Fund Fellowship); LLM; served in the Royal Artillery, 1955-1957; 2nd Lieutenant; called to the Bar, Lincoln's Inn, 1963; Mansfield scholar; Trustee of the Runnymede Trust from 1969; Special Adviser to the Home Secretary (Roy Jenkins), 1974-1976; involved in writing two White Papers on sexual and racial discrimination; Queen's Counsel (QC), 1975; Standing Advisory Commission on Human Rights, 1975-1977; Member of the Board of Overseers, University of Pennsylvania Law School, 1978-1989; Irish Bar, 1983; Honorary Visiting Professor, University College London, from 1983; called to the Bar of Northern Ireland, 1984; Member of the Board of Governors, James Allen's Girls' School, 1984-1994, and Chairman, 1987-1991; Bencher, Lincoln's Inn, 1985; Member of the American Law Institute from 1985; Recorder, 1987-1993; President, Interights, from 1991; Chairman of the Runnymede Trust, 1991-1993; Visiting Professor of Public Law, University College London, from 1992; created Baron Lester of Herne Hill (Life Peer, Liberal Democrat), 13 October 1993; QC (Northern Ireland); Member of the Court of Governors, London School of Economics; Member of the International Law Association Committee on Human Rights; Member of Council, Policy Studies Institute; Member of Council, Institute of Advanced Legal Studies; Governor, British Institute of Human Rights; delivered various lectures in the UK and USA; interests included human rights law and administrative and public law. Resigned from the House of Lords on 12 December 2018. Died 8 August 2020. Publications: 'Justice in the American South' (Amnesty International, 1964); as co-editor, 'Shawcross and Beaumont on Air Law' (3rd edition, 1966); as co-editor, 'Policies for racial equality' (Fabian Society, London, 1967); edited Roy Jenkins' 'Essays and speeches' (Collins, London, 1967); as co-author, 'Race and Law' (1972); contributor to 'British Nationality, Immigration and Race Relations', in Halsbury's Laws of England (4th edition, 1973); 'Leading counsel's opinion on the proposed amendments to the Equal Pay Act 1970: European and community law' (1983); as co-author, 'Equal pay for work of equal value: law and practice' (1984); 'The Changing Constitution', ed Jeffrey Jowell and Dawn Oliver (1985); 'A British Bill of Rights' (1990); 'The crisis facing human rights in Europe: does the British government really care?' (1993); as co-author, 'What price Hansard?' (1994); 'Five ideas to fight for: how our freedom is under threat and why it matters' (2016); 'Talking to Myself: A Life in Human Rights' (2022).


Scope and content/abstract:

The papers consist of: (1) Subject files of correspondence (and related papers) produced by Lester in the course of his career as a barrister and (principally) as a member of the House of Lords. (2) House of Lords Written Answers to questions put by Lester: (a) a comprehensive series covering 1993 to 2005 (LESTER/183-LESTER/188); and (b) a scattering throughout the files. (3) Lester's writings (articles, lectures, letters to the press, speeches, publications etc.): (a) LESTER/205-LESTER/213, a carefully arranged chronological series of nine files, each introduced by the relevant portion of a sequential index numbered 1[18]-335, and covering the period 1964-2011; (b) other individual files of articles, lectures, speeches etc. (e.g. LESTER/215, LESTER/216, LESTER/221, LESTER/222, LESTER/223; (c) other occasional examples of papers, articles, notes, and annotated documents scattered throughout the subject files. The papers reflect Lester's senior role with the Social Democratic Party (SDP) and the Liberal Democrats, his campaigning political interest in Human Rights both in the UK and internationally, race relations, equality legislation, constitutional matters, European Union policy, religious discrimination, free speech/freedom of expression, freedom of information, asylum, civil partnerships, racism and antisemitism, Northern Ireland human rights matters and family planning, law reform and reform of the justiciary, equality for women, forced marriages, Holocaust reparations, prison reform, scrutiny of treaties, defamation, and the invasion of Iraq; his prolific output as an author of publications, articles, lectures, speeches and letters to the press; his membership of Lincoln's Inn and the Garrick Club; and personal and professional contacts with his many correspondents in politics, the legal profession and the press. Lester's Private Memberís Bills and political campaigning helped bring about the Human Rights Act 1998, the Civil Partnership Act 2004, the Forced Marriage (Civil Protection) Act 2007, the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010, the Equality Act 2010, and the Defamation Act 2013: the papers reflect many of the issues which resulted in the enactment of these pieces of legislation.

Access & Use

Language/scripts of material:

System of arrangement:

The catalogue follows the box order of files as received from the Odysseus Trust, including additional material received as part of the same accession. The catalogue follows an original alphabetical subject box order between LESTER/1-LESTER/149. Thereafter the material is arranged more loosely, with the exception of LESTER/183-LESTER/188 (a apparently comprehensive collection of House of Lords Written Answers to questions put by Lester between 1993 and 2005, and LESTER/205-LESTER/213, a carefully arranged chronological series of nine files of articles, lectures, letters to the press, speeches and publications etc. by Lester, each with the relevant portion of a sequential index numbered 18-335 (the first page of the list is missing): however, not all the items listed in the index are present in the files as received from the depositor.

Conditions governing access:

Some items are restricted/closed. The majority are open.

Conditions governing reproduction:

Normal copyright restrictions apply.

Finding aids:


Archival Information

Archival history:

Papers used by Lester in the course of his work as a barrister (QC) and member of the House of Lords.

Immediate source of acquisition:

Deposited by Lord Lester's daughter, Maya Lester.

Allied Materials

Related material:

National Register of Archives: Click here to view NRA record

Publication note:

Description Notes

Archivist's note:
Source: Who's Who. Compiled by Rachel Kemsley as part of the RSLP AIM25 project. Updated Martin Woodward.

Rules or conventions:
Compiled in compliance with General International Standard Archival Description, ISAD(G), second edition, 2000; National Council on Archives Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names, 1997.

Date(s) of descriptions:

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