The issue of extradition has been a complex one, which continues to dominate the news. It has been argued that the Extradition Act 2003 was a result of the ‘war on terror’, making it easier for the US to extradite individuals from Britain, in a dubious and untested manner. On the other side it has been argued that the law has meant that suspects face a broad test in both countries, and that the use of Human Rights legislation has been restrictive and overreaching.
With the extradition of Abu Hamza, immediately followed by Talha Ahsan and Barbar Ahmad; then the decision not to extradite Gary McKinnon, and the ongoing debate around Julian Assange, there seem to be discrepancies in the application of the law. The public are confused, and the Government and the Judiciary don’t seem far behind.
Individuals from across society have united on each side of the debate. Both cohorts have demanded a change in the legislation. Moving forward what changes if any should be made in the law or its application? And should Britain be extraditing criminals and terrorists?
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This one day conference will provide members of the legal profession with an opportunity to discuss the current issues relating to the role of the professional regulators – the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) and the Bar Standards Board (BSB).
John Page, President of the National Bar Association (USA) will give the keynote address.
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As part of a network of Legal Support Trusts working with the Access to Justice Foundation we support the provision of specialist legal advice through law centres, advice agencies and citizens advice bureaux by providing them with grant funding alongside other forms of support.
The 2012 City Law: CV & Interview Masterclass will help you strengthen your presentation and communication skills, as well as give you a personal insight into what City law firms are looking for from candidates during the training contract application and interview process.
Attendance at this masterclass is open to ethnic minority undergraduates and graduates who have obtained or are on course to obtain a minimum 2:1 degree at undergraduate level.
This is a popular masterclass and places are limited! Avoid disappointment by registering well before the deadline! The deadline for registrations is: Friday 13 April 2012.
To apply, click on the button below:
The claim, which has been filed in the Superior Court of California in the County of Los Angeles, and is said to be worth at least $50 million in punitive damages alone, alleges racketeering, negligence, racial discrimination, defamation and the suborning of witnesses by two SRA investigators who were sent to Los Angeles, California and Hawaii by the UK regulator on three separate occasions to try and obtain evidence against Mr. Mireskandari in 2008. In December 2008, the SRA intervened in Mr. Mireskandari’s successful London-based law firm, Dean & Dean – a practice that he joined in 1999, becoming a partner in 2005 and which had a turnover of several million – closing down his firm and placing more than 40 ethnic minority employees out of work.
In his lawsuit, Mr. Mireskandari, who is a US citizen of Iranian origin, alleges that SRA investigators Barrington Mayne and Malcolm Lees, deliberately lied to people that they interviewed in the United States, including a senior Deputy District Attorney and an employee of the California Bar, elicited false witness statements and effectively fabricated evidence that were later relied upon by the SRA and presented to the High Court as documents of truth to justify the intervention. Mr. Mireskandari believes that the intervention was retribution for the legal representation that his firm provided to Mr. Ghaffur, who was the UK’s highest ranking Asian Muslim police officer at the time. It is also understood that Sir Iain Blair’s solicitor, Ed Solomons, was a member of the SRA’s Board at the time that the intervention took place.
Mr. Mireskandari’s US attorney, Milton Grimes who is a member of the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), commented:
“Having worked with Mr. Mireskandari and the Society of Black Lawyers on this case, I am astounded by the arrogance and audacity of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. That the SRA came to California and abused the goodwill, not only of our legal community but also our prosecuting authorities in order to racially profile and target minority solicitors in the UK is something that cannot go unchallenged.”
Mr. Mireskandari’s US claim joins that of another civil action, brought by Paul Baxendale-Walker, a former tax solicitor of Asian origin, whose successful law practice was closed down by the SRA in 2005. Mr. Baxendale-Walker alleges that the SRA used similar tactics to intervene and then strike him off the roll of solicitors.
Mireskandari and Baxendale-Walker are members of a growing number of ethnic minority solicitors who are now taking the fight to the SRA, alleging racial discrimination, wrongdoing and disproportionality in the way that ethnic minority solicitors are treated by the regulator.
SBL Co-Chair, Peter Herbert OBE commented:
“These are serious allegations of wrongdoing and Civil Rights abuses. Acting under the direction and control of senior executives at the SRA, Barrington Mayne and Malcolm Lees appear to have violated both the civil and criminal codes of the State of California. This total disregard for the rights of a US citizen will now be brought before the US courts where the judiciary cannot be assumed to be as sympathetic to the SRA as they appear to be in England and Wales. The SBL has become increasingly concerned that some High Court and Circuit judges in England are treating the SRA as an institution that needs to be protected at all costs – even when they are presented with clear evidence of unequal treatment and wrongdoing. These US claims are therefore extremely important in shining a light on the injustices being experienced by ethnic minority solicitors in the UK.”
- Mr. Mireskandari’s civil claim was lodged on Friday 17 February 2012 and can be downloaded at: Mireskandari v. The Law Society of England & Wales
- Lord Herman Ouseley’s ‘Independent Review into Disproportionate Regulatory Outcomes for Black and Minority Ethnic Solicitors’ (July 2008) can be found at: http://www.sra.org.uk/ouseley/
- The Pearn Kandola report into issues of disproportionality at the SRA can be found at: http://www.sra.org.uk/sra/equality-diversity/reports/research-disproportionality.page
Joyce Agim is the latest ethnic minority solicitor who believes that institutional racism at the SRA has led to a white solicitor receiving only a reprimand from the SRA, even though the Authority found that the solicitor in question had committed clear breaches of the Solicitors Accounting Rules and anti-money laundering rules. Mrs Agim claims that ethnic minority solicitors have been struck off for much lesser charges and she is now suing the regulatory body for discrimination. The SRA are seeking, not only to have Mrs Agim’s claim struck out at a hearing on Thursday 26 January 2012 at the Central London County Court, but also to prevent Mrs Agim from using the SRA’s forensic investigation report into the conduct of the white solicitor as evidence in her case against them.
The SRA has been subject to external monitoring since 2007 as a result of its disproportionate targeting of African, Caribbean and Asian solicitors. An internal report, published in 2006 could not explain why ethnic minority solicitors were five times more likely to be investigated, suspended or struck off than their white counterparts. In July 2008, an independent investigation conducted by Lord Herman Ouseley into allegations of racism, discrimination and victimisation within the SRA found extensive evidence of institutional racism within the regulatory body. Mrs Agim and others believe that despite these reports and efforts within the SRA to implement Lord Ouseley’s recommendations, the Authority continues to engage in practices and decision making which amount to ‘racial profiling’.
Peter Herbert OBE, National Co-Chair of the Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) commented:
“We do not condone dishonest or incompetent solicitors but we do demand equal treatment. There appears to be a worrying lack of transparency about how decisions are made at the SRA. These allegations are serious and the SRA should address them instead of trying to sweep these issues under the carpet.”
The case of Joyce Agim v. The Law Society/ SRA will be heard on Thursday 26 January 2012 at Central London County Court. The hearing will commence at 10.30am. A demonstration will be held outside Central London County Court from 9.30am to 10.30am to highlight the plight of ethnic minority solicitors.
Norris was sentenced to a minimum of 14 years and three months and Dobson received 15 years and two months. Both were sentenced under old guidelines as if they were juveniles because they were under the age of 18 when the crime was committed. Dobson had previously been acquitted in 1996 following a private prosecution brought by the Lawrence family. It was only due to a change in the law on double jeopardy in 2005 that he was able to be tried again.
Jide Lanlehin, criminal barrister commented:
‘We welcome the sentences that have been passed and recognise that the judge’s hands were tied in that respect. The sentences could have been much longer if judicial discretion, based on exceptional circumstances had been possible. Such a crime, if it had been committed by juveniles today, would have attracted a far longer sentence. Sadly, neither the sentencing guidelines nor legislation allowed for such discretion to be exercised.’
JOINT ENTERPRISE: JAMIE ACOURT, NEIL ACOURT & LUKE KNIGHT
SBL Co-Chair, Peter Herbert OBE commented:
‘The SBL is calling on the Crown Prosecution Service to undertake an immediate
review of this case, with a view to bringing prosecutions against the three remaining suspects. Our view is that the convictions of Norris and Dobson represent substantial new evidence of a joint enterprise in relation to all five men. Luke Knight and the Acourt brothers should be re-interviewed. They should not think that they are safe from the continuing call for justice.’
Rosemary Emodi, Vice Chair of the SBL commented:
‘SBL made written and oral submissions to the Macpherson Inquiry in 1998, arguing that the law on double jeopardy should be reviewed. It was the one recommendation that specifically addressed the particular circumstances of the Lawrence family following the failed private prosecution in 1996. The
wide-ranging impact of the Stephen Lawrence case is well documented. But it was the dignified and unwavering fight for justice, led by Doreen and Neville Lawrence that has been so compelling.
As lawyers, the SBL believes that our role is not just to practice the law. We must shape it, influence it and where necessary, change it. Dobson’s conviction stands as an enduring testament to that belief.’]]>
The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL), has condemned as indefensible, the stance of Chelsea and Liverpool Football Clubs for appearing to endorse the alleged acts of racism perpetuated by John Terry and Luis Suarez respectively.
Chelsea F.C. issued a statement, expressing their unconditional support after captain John Terry was charged with a racially aggravated public order offence relating to alleged remarks to Queens Park Rangers (QPR) defender Anton Ferdinand. Meanwhile, Liverpool F.C. has continued to defend the behaviour of Luis Suarez following the eight-match ban given to the Uruguayan who was found guilty of racially abusing Manchester United’s Patrice Evra.
The SBL was one of the main organisations that successfully campaigned for racism to be criminalised and recognised as a hate crime in the Crime and Disorder Act 1998. The organisation intends to make a formal complaint to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) about the racist and offensive language used by Luis Suarez and will urge the CPS to treat the matter as a racist incident requiring a full and proper investigation. The SBL will also urge the CPS to prosecute Mr Suarez if the outcome of the investigation evinces a reasonable prospect of a conviction according to the public interest test contained within the Code for Crown Prosecutors.
The SBL contends that there should be no difference in the treatment of the two players and as both football clubs are the players’ respective employers, such instances of racism ought to have been treated as allegations of gross misconduct by the clubs and not simply denied as being completely unfounded.
SBL Co-Chair, Peter Herbert OBE commented:
“To our knowledge, neither club has bothered to conduct its own independent investigation or hold a disciplinary hearing. If such serious allegations of racism had been made in the workplace, any reasonable employer would consider itself to be under a strict duty to conduct a full, detailed and impartial investigation into the allegations, and not simply to state that they stand behind the denials of the player concerned.
The punitive effects of racism are felt by thousands of people in Britain each day. The response of the Footbaall Association (FA) and the CPS must be robust to protect others from the humiliation, pain and suffering that this type of hate crime inflicts. There is no reason why Suarez should not face criminal charges. When individual football clubs and fellow players – both black and white – endorse this kind of behaviour, they themselves become part of the problem because they stand in the way of the total eradication of racism from the sport. Their denial and appeasement reflects an abdication of their role as responsible players or employers.”]]>