Disproportionate representation of BME solicitors in SRA’s work “not caused by racism”

March 13, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Legal Futures website published the article below on 13/03/2014

The disproportionately high representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) solicitors in the Solicitors Regulation Authority’s (SRA) disciplinary work is caused by broader socio-economic factors around access to the profession, and not discrimination by the regulator, a major independent report has concluded.

However, equality and race relations expert Professor Gus John said the SRA needs to “look very carefully and urgently at how sole practitioners and small firms are regulated”.

Professor John was appointed in August 2012 to investigate the longstanding issue of disproportionality, which triggered the 2008 Ouseley report. As part of it, he also reviewed six cases where BME solicitors had specifically alleged discrimination – some with the vocal support of the Society of Black Lawyers – and found “no evidence” to support such claims. Read the rest of this entry →

SRA focus too narrowly on regulating in the public interest

March 13, 2014 in Gus in the Media, Print

The Solicitors Journal published the following article on 13/03/2014

The Solicitors Regulation Authority’s narrow focus on regulating in the public interest has had a disproportionately adverse effect on BME firms, the author of a major review into allegations of regulatory discrimination has said.

The Independent Comparative Case Review, by diversity expert Professor Gus John, built on previous research by Lord Ouseley in 2008 and Pearn Kandola in 2010, both of which highlighted concerns that regulatory approach before the introduction of outcomes-focused regulation discriminated against black, ethnic and minority solicitors.

It cleared the SRA of discrimination against BME firms, but Professor John said these practices were nevertheless disproportionately affected by the regulator’s then approach to compliance and enforcement. Read the rest of this entry →

Policing by contempt

March 8, 2014 in Blog, Highlights

Credits: "Stephen Lawrence memorial", by Darryl_SE7 (Flickr - CC BY-NC 2.0)

Credits: “Stephen Lawrence memorial”, by Darryl_SE7 (Flickr – CC BY-NC 2.0)

So, finally the home secretary is ordering a judge-led inquiry into the activities of undercover police and their corrupt practices. We in the black community have argued since the 1960s that there is a thin dividing line between the police’s illegal and abusive treatment of black people and the racial violence and murders committed by white racists.

In the case of Stephen Lawrence, we have always claimed that from the very outset the Metropolitan Police were key players in a ‘joint enterprise’ with known hard core criminals to thwart the apprehension of Stephen’s murderers and pervert the course of justice. The report by Mark Ellison QC simply confirms what we already knew or otherwise rightly suspected.

At times like these, politicians no less than police top brass express shock and outrage at revelations of corrupt and illegal practices on the part of the police, thus confirming that the historical complaints communities make about the myriad ways in which police abuse their powers and break the law have been roundly ignored by the state.

The harsh reality is that the experience African and Asian communities have had of policing in Britain since the beginning of the 20th century and especially since post-war immigration is of policing with contempt, never mind all the familiar rhetoric about policing by consent.

So, how have we got here? Read the rest of this entry →

Redeeming the Heirs of Apartheid?

December 23, 2013 in Blog

Credits: Print screen from The Guardian's website (http://bit.ly/1jzNTGi)

Credits: Print screen from The Guardian’s website (http://bit.ly/1jzNTGi)

She has been dubbed Mandela’s rock’.

So began a report by David Smith in The Observer on 15 December 2013 of an interview he did with Zelda la Grange, Mandela’s ‘closest aide’.

Staying with the prevailing theme of the world wide coverage of the death of Mandela, i.e., as the all forgiving, revenge and bitterness eschewing, conciliating father of the nation, the report focused on the rise of la Grange, a young Afrikaner, from the presidential typing pool to becoming Mandela’s ‘right-hand woman and, in effect, his white granddaughter’. Read the rest of this entry →

Where Now for Black History Month?

November 3, 2013 in Blog, Gus talks, Papers

"African Diaspora" by beautifulcataya (Flickr - CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

“African Diaspora” by beautifulcataya (Flickr – CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Most every year at this time, a debate ensues about the purpose, merits and direction of Black History Month (BHM), a debate fuelled in the main by frustration about the focus of BHM programmes over the preceding four weeks. 

On Thursday 31 October 2013, some 1,000 people gathered at the Church of Christ the Redeemer in Allenbury Road, Greenford, for the funeral of the publisher and political activist Jessica Huntley and to acknowledge and celebrate her distinctive contribution to British schooling, British social history and Black History over the last half a century.

One of the many educational and inspirational events Jessica organized and contributed to in the period before her death was a debate in November 2012 about ‘the way forward for Black History Month in the UK’.  On 22 February 2013, Nubian Jak organized a symposium at the Africa Centre in Covent Garden, London, on a proposal for an annual ‘African Heritage Month International‘ celebration in February.  On February 23rd, the 8th Huntley Conference was held at the London Metropolitan Archives. This also marked Jessica’s 86th birthday and turned out to be her last conference.

I was unable to contribute to the Huntley debate but wrote this paper for the Africa Centre symposium.  I reproduce it here because among the very many discussions that took place around Jessica’s funeral about the many projects she was actively involved with up to the day before she passed on, was one about her take on the future of Black History Month. Read the rest of this entry →