Emily Bendell is suing the Garrick Club as it 'excludes women from power and influence'

Emily Bendell is taking legal action against London’s Garrick club in a bid to force them to allow women to become members.

She argues that the men-only rule, which has been in place for 189 years, is "discriminatory and unlawful".

Explaining why she is taking legal action, Emily told Susanna Reid and Adil Ray: "We have to ask ourselves, what is the reason for the Garrick Club excluding women? This is a place of incredible power and incredible influence. There are 11 QCs as members, there are politicians as members. This is where professional connections are made at the highest level and women are excluded from that."

"Working Men's clubs voted to include women back in 2007 so how are these elitist organisations made up of people who run our country still allowed to exclude women from those forums?"

Emily went on to argue that women are potentially missing opportunities by not being included.

Having been asked what she would gain by gaining membership to the Garrick Club, Emily responded: "This isn’t about my personal desire to sit on those fluffy red seats at the Garrick Club, this is obviously a far wider issue.

"I’m not forcing anyone to socialise with women, if there are men in that club that don’t want to sit with women, fine don’t sit with women but by prohibiting membership to this club - to this high-level networking club, we are inhibiting women’s progress. There is no doubt that old boys networks have inhibited the progression of women." 

However, Nana Akua disagreed with Emily and said that there's "nothing wrong with a man having his own space." 

Warning Emily that her actions could impact women's only clubs, Nana said: "What you could end up doing is setting a precedent. So you would ruin the fact that we have female or ladies clubs which are also very powerful and I think you’re diminishing how powerful women can be in their own spaces and we don’t actually need to have men there. I don’t want to go into a club that won’t be welcoming to me. I think there’s another agenda here."