Peer defends equality organisations

A KEY architect of the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Commission for Racial Equality has accused Law Society president Martin Mears of “ignorant demagoguery”.

The Liberal Democrat peer and lawyer Lord Lester, who helped set up the two bodies in the 1970s as a special adviser to home secretary Roy Jenkins, has expressed astonishment at Mears' claims they may have “outlived their usefulness”.

He said the right to be treated equally was a fundamental human right and praised both commissions for helping to stamp out abuses. “He is speaking for a tiny minority of people in terms I haven't heard expressed since the 1960s.

“One doesn't expect that kind of ignorant demagoguery from a lawyer – still less from the Law Society president.”

But Mears stood by his remarks and threatened to continue his assault against the Equal Opportunities Commission. “If they go on as they are and continue to fund cases that should not be funded then yes, I will question their usefulness.”

In an article in this week's The Lawyer EOC chair Kamlesh Bahl said it had a duty to assist people to enforce their rights (see page 13).

“Far from 'encouraging' applications for assistance, regrettably we have always had to turn away many more applicants than we assist.”