Bettina Plevan: Sacked lawgiver behind landmark rulings dies

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Bettina Plevan and Sir Clifford Irving (left) were told the statue would be changed to show her face

Bettina Plevan, a lawyer who helped to overturn many of the barriers facing women in the law, has died.

The barrister fought a legal battle to change the name of the statue of lawyer Lord Chancellor Edward Lane that stood in Parliament Square in 1986.

She found that it was an insult to women and launched a Supreme Court action in 1987 which was successful.

Plevan, 75, had a sense of “fairness and decency” that was infectious, her solicitor said.

“When you looked at her, you couldn’t help but admire the dignity and wisdom that she had and it was infectious,” said her solicitor Katie Lewis.

“She was very self-effacing and personable, but there was a sort of old world wisdom about her, she had an exceptional sense of fairness and decency.

“It was hugely appropriate that Lord Justice Stanley Burnton said ‘her legacy will be culture change’ and we think that that’s what she was about.”

Her most famous victory came when the Honourable Lady Clarkson, the widow of former minister Sir William Falconer, secured a judgment for 10,000 recipients of Maternity Leave Insurance.

The £19.40 payment had been initially suspended at the order of the then lord chancellor.

Plevan – who fought for gender equality through the establishment of the Central Criminal Court – died at her home in Vauxhall, south London, on Thursday.

The structure where her bust is now displayed has been renamed Lord Justice Plevan, the International Women’s Day in 2014 saw the monument altered to show her face.

The lawgiver was awarded an OBE for services to the legal profession in 2002.

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