A black judge is suing the lord chief justice and a former lord chancellor for race discrimination and victimization in a landmark case before the employment tribunal, it has emerged today. Peter Herbert, a crown court recorder, claims to be the first judge ever to sue leading fellow judges by name. He lodged proceedings this week.
The junior judge alleges that in reprimanding him over public comments he made about another judge, all three discriminated against him and victimised him on the grounds of race. Herbert also makes a claim of racially-motivated harassment.
The MoJ has agreed to carry forward most of the recommendations in David Lammy’s report on the variation in treatment and outcomes for those from black and minority ethnic communities in the justice system. But the Labour politician said he was “disappointed” the decision on representation in the judiciary.
According to the MoJ, just 7% of court judges are from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds (Bame) and 10% of tribunal judges.
Herbert’s dispute relates to a speech he made at a rally in Stepney, east London, in April 2015. He commented negatively about the decision to bar Lutfur Rahman, the former mayor of Tower Hamlets, from holding public office for five years and claimed that racism was present in parts of the judiciary.
Herbert said that his treatment by the disciplinary panel and the senior judges “makes it clear there is a different standard to be applied to a prominent BME lawyer”. He went on to claim that “the lord chief justice and the lord chancellor are willing to make disciplinary findings against BME judges in a way that they would not if we were white. I do not expect to be treated above the law that applies to other judges but I do expect to be treated equally”.