Time for a National Black Footballers Association

December 5, 2012 in Blog, Gus talks, Papers

High profile racist incidents during premium league games in recent times have led to more open public debate about racist abuse of black players by white players and fans.

Such sort of practice has been commonplace in professional football since pioneers such as Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Viv Anderson took to the pitch in the post-Second World War period. They had been famously preceded, of course, by Andrew Watson (1857-1902), the British Guiana born first black Association footballer who won caps three times at international level for Scotland, and Ghanaian Arthur Wharton (1865 – 1930), the first black player to play professional football in Britain.

The story of Andrew Watson’s success in the 1880s and of Wharton’s story, sensitively told by Phil Vasili in his book: The First Black Footballer, Arthur Wharton 1865–1930, with a Foreword by Irvine Welsh and an Introduction by Tony Whelan, should be compulsory reading for every white footballer and fan in Britain. Read the rest of this entry →

David Cameron tries being ‘cruel to be kind’

October 25, 2012 in Blog

It was truly stomach churning to hear David Cameron on Monday 22 October 2012 unctuously setting out his government’s revised law and order agenda for dealing with the presence of knives and guns on our streets, punishing and rehabilitating offenders and giving private contractors outcomes related incentives for reducing offending.

This was the same David Cameron who in the wake of the massive civil disturbances in London and other cities in the summer of 2011 was encouraging and endorsing the practice of jailing those arrested and charged for their involvement in the disturbances by the hundreds, a majority of them for first and relatively minor offences.

One is often led to wonder whether politicians such as David Cameron, George Osborne and Michael Gove – and Tony Blair before them – inhabit the same planet as the rest of us. For one thing, they would have us believe that they suffer from a type of amnesia which kicks in with a vengeance when, in desperation, they reach for particular policies and make headline grabbing pronouncements. Read the rest of this entry →

Should families take the blame for youth crime?

October 5, 2012 in Blog, Print

On the eve of a conference organised by the Seventh Day Adventist Church into parenting and last summer’s riots, the Lambeth Weekender asked professor Gus John: are families to blame for what children do

Lambeth Weekender: What impact did parenting have on the 2011 England riots?

Professor Gus John: This is a very broad and complex question and it needs to be much more nuanced. When do parents cease to have direct responsibility for their children’s conduct? At what age are children thought to be criminally responsible? How many young people below the age of 16 were involved in the riots? It seems to me that there are questions about parental responsibility in respect of children who were involved in the mayhem on the streets and who would not ordinarily be seen as old enough to be home alone.

There is a much wider question about whether or not some parents routinely let their young people who live at home go and come as they please and at whatever hour they please, without bothering to find out where their children are or who they are with. I do not have the statistics at hand, but there were many young people arrested for involvement in the mayhem who do not fit that profile but found themselves on the streets out of curiosity or because they saw an opportunity to get back at the police.

The broader question of why so many young (and older people of diverse ethnic backgrounds) clearly were not acting with moral purpose on those nights is one that concerns more than just parents. Young people acquire values and use them as a compass for their public and private conduct from parents, schools, the media, the conduct of public leaders and politicians, films and popular culture, etc. The majority of those taking part in the disturbances were from urban working class families, but not all.

The question as parental responsibility was not posed at all, or not put in quite the same way during the disturbances that accompanied the student fees protests. Was that because the majority of those protesting and confronting the police were white and middle class? Is parental failure deemed to be responsible for the widespread fraud committed by MPs in the recent expenses scandal, or the high level white collar crimes that are committed in this country every day, much of which goes unreported? Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John criticises Wildman’s assertions about Jamaican judges

September 13, 2012 in Blog

Photo credits: Print screen from “The Gleaner”‘

Hugh Wildman, a former senior prosecutor who has served across the Caribbean, asserted earlier this month that judges in Jamaica and the rest of the region are not capable of delivering judgements that are on par with their British counterparts. Professor Gus John reacted to his remarks, saying:

Hugh Wildman is not only making some very backward assertions about intellectual capacity and skills in jurisprudence, he is failing to ask the right questions about the way our court system in the region operates to the disadvantage of the poor who cannot afford top notch lawyers.

There is a glaring ‘inequality of access to justice’ issue which runs throughout the Caribbean and which every single government ignores, especially as the apparatuses of the State (police, army, unofficial militia of senior politicians) are themselves typically responsible for the denial of the basic human rights of citizens. The issue of extra-judicial killings (police executions) in Jamaica, for example, and the intimidation of Human Rights lawyers and activists is what makes the population thankful for the existence of the Privy Council, despite the fact that the majority of the population do not have access to it for want of the cost of hiring senior lawyers, not that they consider that lawyers in the region lack the competence of Privy Councillors in Britain. Read the rest of this entry →

Gus John to advise on Legal Education and Training Review

June 30, 2012 in Blog

Professor Gus John is to chair the Equality & Diversity and Social Mobility (EDSM) Group that will contribute to the Legal Education and Training Review

The Legal Education and Training Review is a joint project of the Solicitors Regulation Authority, the Bar Standards Board and ILEX Professional Standards. It constitutes a fundamental, evidence-based review of education and training requirements across regulated and non-regulated legal services in England and Wales.

The EDSM Group has been set up to give specialist advice and guidance: as part of its remit, the group will be looking at the recently published Discussion Paper on Equality Diversity and Social Mobility. Read the rest of this entry →