The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) has defended itself against claims that it is racist and discriminates against non-white lawyers in its investigations.

MP Keith Vaz, chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee, had criticised the SRA for investigating complaints against a disproportionate number of ethnic minorities.

Vaz alleged that 62 per cent of SRA investigations in 2006 related to black minority ethnic (BME) solicitors who make up just 22 per cent of total numbers.

However, the SRA has today (16 October) defended its actions, stating that these facts were misleading. It said that only two Asian and nine black solicitors were closed down, compared to 22 white solicitors and 26 solicitors whose race was not known.

Nevertheless, in a 2006 report the SRA acknowledged that BME solicitors were “disproportionately represented in regulatory decisions compared to their representation within the profession”.

In a statement SRA chief executive Antony Townsend said: “Our job is to protect the public and we apply our policies fairly and consistently.”

The SRA will meet with Vaz later this week to discuss the allegations.