Lammy Review response overshadowed by Black judges suing ministry of justice


Government moves to address racial unfairness in the criminal justice system have coincided with several ethnic minority judges are suing the Ministry of Justice over racism.

The Lord Chancellor has pledged to tackle all the recommendations in Lammy Review, but David Lammy criticised the response for not setting targets to recruit more BAME judges.

Meanwhile, three BAME judges are to sue the Ministry of Justice for race discrimination. The cases are sure to cast doubt over the government’s commitment to eradicate racial biases so that the scales of justice are level.

The Labour MP for Tottenham released his report in September, after it was commissioned by the then prime minister David Cameron.

The government’s today promised to implement all 35 Lammy recommendations or find other approaches “that achieve the same aim.”

Lammy expressed disappointment that the government had not set ethnicity targets for judges or magistrates.

The government response came as judge Peter Herbert (pictured) revealed plans to sue the Ministry of Justice after a high court judge recommended Herbert for dismissal after he complained to the Lord Chancellor David Lidington about racism.

Herbert, who successfully fought off a previous attempt to disbar him, has lodged a case with the employment tribunal, arguing that even supreme court judges have to respect the Equality Act. The fact that Herbert, two other BAME judges, and a former tribunal member are all taking the Lidington’s department to court alleging race discrimination could prove embarrassing for the government.

Lidington led the response to the Lammy Review, saying: “The Government accepts it will be judged on its actions, as well as its words.”

The most headline-grabbing of these are ‘deferred prosecutions’ where younger defendants’ are put on rehabilitation schemes instead of jail.

This measure was proposed to deal with the symptoms of racial discrimination in the criminal justice system, but it needs to be counterbalanced with action to tackle the causes.

Lammy called for targets and goals to address the deficit, adding: “I found that the lack of diversity within our judiciary and magistracy has a significant effect on the trust deficit that I found in Britain’s BAME communities in relation to how the justice system is perceived.”

7% of court judges and 11% of magistrates are classified as BAME, significantly below the 14% non-white population. None of the 12 supreme court judges are from an ethnic minority, as OBV pointed out as part of our Colour of Power project.

Herbert, a former vice chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, was informed of the decision by High Court judge Dame Glossip to suspend him just days after accompanying another BAME judge, known as ‘Judge A’, to meeting about Judge A’s tribunal case against the MoJ claiming race discrimination and victimisation.

Herbert has also raised the case of ‘Judge B’, of African origin, who is taking a case over alleged discriminatory remarks and unfair distribution of work. It is also claimed that Judge B was subjected to bullying and harassing emails demanding that he withdraw the racism case.

The four race cases against the MoJ call into question the government’s commitment to racial justice in the criminal justice system.

BAME communities will want to know how they trust the government to respond fairly to the Lammy Review while allegations of unfair treatment against BAME judges persist.

Lester Holloway