Association triggers row over CRE ethnic figures

THE RIGHT-WING Freedom Association has been accused of petty behaviour over its “expose” of inaccurate figures on the percentage of ethnic minority lawyers.

A factsheet published by the Commission of Racial Equality (CRE) had to be withdrawn after the pressure group complained that it was misleading.

Association director Gerald Hartup pointed out that the sheet claimed one per cent of solicitors in England are from ethnic minorities when the real quota is actually 3.4 per cent.

Hartup claims the mistake – a difference of about 1,500 solicitors – would have a dramatic effect in dissuading young black people from entering the legal profession.

He said: “The damage has been done. Researchers will no doubt already be using these CRE statistics to compose undergraduate or postgraduate essays on the prevalence of racial discrimination within the legal profession.

“The CRE still retains a culture relentlessly negative about the progress of ethnic minorities in our society with some of its staff always on the lookout for racial discrimination whether real or illusory.”

Hartup admitted that generally, “it helps to have a white skin” when getting a job, but denied that he was “nit-picking”.

However, a spokeswoman for the Society of Black Lawyers called the claim “extremely petty”.

She added: “It is quite a small difference. Black people are still under represented in the profession.”

A CRE spokesman said research for the sheet had been carried out by the London Research Centre, who tried unsuccessfully to check the figure with the Law Society.

He added: “We are not about whinging, we are about good practice and getting it accepted across the board.”