Black set questions still remain

QUESTIONS still need to be asked about the expulsion of a black “ghetto chambers” by Lincoln's Inn in the summer, according to a bar anti-racism campaigner Elpha Lecointe.

The chambers of Yosefaly Serugo-Lugo was expelled from its rented premises at 9 Stone Buildings when its debts to the Inn rose above u38,000. At the time, black lawyers held back from publicly accusing the Inn of racism.

But speaking at a conference on race issues staged by the Criminal Justice Consultative Council, Lecointe, who sits on the Bar Race Relations Council, said: “We need to look at whether they were treated in the same way as other chambers in a similar position.”

She added: “Black barristers still end up in ghetto-sets, where it is difficult to obtain work and achieve recognition.”

Lecointe condemned the toothless “recommendations” of the Bar Council, which state that chambers should aim towards a five per cent quota of black barristers in each chambers. “It is necessary to cajole, persuade and embarrass chambers into doing the right thing.”

Judge Elisabeth Fisher, chair of the CJCC sub-group on race and criminal justice, said: “Ensuring race equality is essential to the criminal justice system. In some quarters there is still resistance to the idea that racial discrimination may occur.” Yet 16 per cent of the prison population is black, when only five per cent of the rest of the population is black, and 25 per cent of women prisoners are black.