Customs & Excise loses disability case

The lawyer charged with stamping out disability prejudice in the Customs & Excise Solicitors' Office has been found guilty of discriminating against a blind solicitor.

David Pickup was found guilty of disability discrimination last week by Croydon Employment Tribunal after failing to promote blind lawyer Farooq Shah.

The tribunal's finding is particularly embarrassing as Pickup had been assigned the task of eliminating disability discrimination in the workplace.

A Customs & Excise spokesman confirms: “It is embarrassing for the department because we have been trying to promote equal opportunities. We hold our hands up.

“We are reviewing the implementation of the things we are doing for disabled people.”

Shah went to the tribunal after being overlooked for promotion in April 1998 to senior principal grade, despite working for the organisation for 10 years. Pickup gave the post to a less senior lawyer who had no experience of working in the division.

Shah sued for both racial and disability discrimination. The tribunal dismissed the claims of racial prejudice but did find the Solicitors' Office guilty of disability discrimination.

The hearing has been adjourned until December to enable compensation to be assessed. The spokesman says Pickup will remain in his current post. The Office is still in discussions with Shah about what role he will take in the future at the department.