The Law Society is under attack from Imran Khan, the lawyer for Stephen Lawrence's family, its former vice-president Kamlesh Bahl, and 140 ethnic-minority lawyers.
The high-profile pair are fighting for a public inquiry into the society's conduct during and after an employment tribunal in July, in which it was found guilty of race and sex discrimination towards Bahl. They are also calling for an inquiry into the conduct of incumbent Law Society president David McIntosh. Khan has written to the Law Society enclosing a petition signed by 140 ethnic-minority lawyers, to request a special general meeting of the society's council. Khan suggested that the special general meeting (SGM) should be chaired by Sylvia Denman, who also examined racism in the Crown Prosecution Service in 2000. He also asked for the results of the inquiry to be reported no later than 30 June 2002. Law Society chief executive Janet Paraskeva said: "I'm taking steps to make the necessary arrangements to call such a meeting under our existing bylaws."
"I am taking steps to make the necessary arrangements to call a meeting under our existing bylaws" Janet Paraskeva, the Law Society
Khan also requested that the Law Society removes officials and members of staff that were found guilty of sexual and racial discrimination in the Bahl case. These are most notably former president Robert Sayer and former secretary general Jane Betts. Another request was for the society to stop funding the appeal against the decision in the Bahl tribunal, on behalf of Sayer and Betts. Khan also said that the society should go public on the amount of money it has spent on the Bahl case. According to Kamlesh Bahl, inside estimates stand at around £2m. If the SGM does grant Khan and Bahl the independent inquiry, they want it to specifically examine current Law Society president David McIntosh. He was head of the Law Society's high profile litigation committee when Bahl launched proceedings against the society in 1999. Bahl said: "McIntosh was in charge of making sure the whole affair was handled properly. What did he do? He let the Law Society get into the current situation."