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The Crown Prosecution Service has been rocked by accusations of racism by one of its own prosecutors, former barrister Uma Bhardwaj.
Bhardwaj is taking the CPS to the Central London Employment Tribunal, claiming its recruitment strategy discriminates against black and Asian recruits.
In 2004, the CPS offered Bhardwaj a role as a senior prosecutor but at the lowest level of C1 grade, despite her 17 years experience as a barrister.
When Bhardwaj joined in January 2005, she noticed that several white colleagues joined as C2 prosecutors with less experience.
She was told that she would have to accept a salary of £26,954, the lowest for a C1 prosecutor. A C2 prosecutor can earn up to £51,000 with only two years experience.
Bhardwaj said: “I have 17 years experience and I now know that salaries of almost double mine were offered to some white prosecutors. There seems no logic to it and it has left me feeling demeaned and undervalued.”
Shah Qureshi, head of employment and discrimination at Webster Dixon Solicitors. is representing Bhardwaj.
He told The Lawyer: “State institutions, including the CPS, have a history of these types of allegations against them and you commonly see a barrier of progression based on ethnicity.”
Bhardwaj is still working at the CPS. Before that, she was a barrister at 3 King’s Bench Walk.
Makbool Javaid, head of the equality and diversity group at DLA Piper Rudnick Gray Cary, is advising the CPS on the case and declined to comment.