Sunday, 29 July 2012

PRESS RELEASE: Racial Discrimination/Unfair dismissal at New College, Oxford University: Employment Tribunal starts tomorrow.

Press Release  29th July 2012

The Employment Tribunal hearing is on Monday 30th July 2012, Tuesday 31st July 2012, Wednesday 1st August 2012, Thursday 2nd August 2012 and Friday 3rd August 2012 at 10am at Employment Tribunals, 4th Floor, 30/31 Friar Street, Entrance in Merchants Place, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1DY.


 I was contacted by a black chef, Gregory Lewis who worked at New College, Oxford University for eight years. He was treated extremely badly and there was clearly racial discrimination involved. The director of the Race Equality Council in Oxford advised him to take a claim to Employment Tribunal, which he did. He was unable to access legal assistance. Gregory contacted me because he could not understand why the tribunal hearing, which found in New College’s favour, seemed to have been conducted in a way that seemed to practically ignore the evidence they presented, whilst overlooking lies, inconsistencies and a total disregard for equality legislation on the part of New College.

The legal process has been a long drawn out one. Gregory has been suffering from depression and anxiety caused by the racial discrimination he experienced since October 2008 and the stress of legal proceedings has exacerbated his condition.

New College staff blatantly lied under oath during the tribunal hearing last July. The HR Officer had no idea of what the specific duties of Higher Education Establishments were under the RRA (amendment) 2000. There was no monitoring in place to ensure there was no racial discrimination in any of their policies, such as disciplinary action, access to training and promotion; the only equal opportunities monitoring with regard to racial group that New College had in place, was a tick box on their application form.

Gregory Lewis had been interviewed for the role of head chef, after being a second chef at Oxford University for twenty years, eight of those at New College. There had never been a black head chef at an Oxford University college. At that time, as second chef, Gregory held the highest position of any black member of staff at New College. (He was acting head chef for over a year). There were no black fellows, tutors or managers. They interviewed Gregory along with other candidates, none of whom were taken on. New College management advised Gregory to go on a course to better his chances of getting the still vacant, head chef’s position. They did not offer him the opportunity to go on this course before the interview, but during cross examination, the catering manager said that he ‘would not have employed anyone who did not have the qualification already ‘unless they were a Jamie Oliver’, so the interview was a farce unless they believed that a black chef might at any time morph into a white TV chef!

While he was away on the course (and still acting head chef as far as he knew), the college took on a new (white) head chef through the back door without even letting Gregory know, totally humiliating him in front of his colleagues. The message was clear: the black man does not deserve any respect. The person they took on had not even made the shortlist for the original interview and had no experience in a university setting.

The original interview notes (received during legal proceedings) made rude comments about Gregory Lewis that were clearly based on racial stereotyping, making him out to have a slave mentality and unable to follow instructions or understand what they were asking of him. This was a chef that had won many awards during his time working at Oxford University colleges and received many compliments in writing from important guests.

New College management embarked on a series of actions designed to intimidate Gregory and force him out of his job. In the end he was too ill to work and they dismissed him on grounds of medical capability.

The judge and lay members at the Employment Tribunal in Reading were dismissive of the evidence given that management had racially stereotyped Gregory, and the judge said that ‘being lazy and stupid is not a stereotype of a black man’. Evidence was provided to show this, but it was ignored. Gregory had a long list of grievances but the tribunal judge and panel skimmed over them and let New College and their representative dictate what was mentioned. When I met him he was mentally and physically exhausted by the whole process and had lost complete faith in the system that was supposed to protect him from racial discrimination. I told him to keep fighting; the truth was on his side and the law was supposed to be as well!

I helped him to set up a campaign to highlight the racial discrimination at Oxford University colleges. This was before David Lammy exposed Oxford University’s appalling record on admitting black students and employing black fellows. We submitted Freedom of Information requests which uncovered the fact that many Oxford colleges were flouting equality laws and were, in some cases, arrogantly unconcerned about it. EHRC, on receiving the information provided by the campaign, wrote to Oxford University’s Vice Chancellor telling him to remind Oxford colleges, which are autonomous, of their duties under equality law.
When Gregory Lewis received the judgement from the Employment Tribunal in writing, he was shocked to find that not only had the judge disregarded what he had said about racial stereotyping, he had substituted his own racial stereotype, saying that he thought he was stereotyped as a black Caribbean man as being ‘laid back to the extreme’!

At the London Employment Appeal Preliminary Hearing, the judge and panel were not impressed that the Reading Employment Tribunal judge and panel, regularly hearing cases of racial discrimination, appeared to have little understanding of racial stereotyping. (The lay members at Reading Employment Tribunal had agreed with the judge that being lazy and stupid was not a racial stereotype of a black man!).The Employment Appeal Tribunal were also concerned that the case appeared to have been tried as an unfair dismissal case with little regard to the racial discrimination side of the case.

I would like to know what training Employment Tribunal judges and lay members have with regard to equal opportunities and race issues. If they are as ignorant on race issues, as those that conducted Gregory Lewis’s case, it is no wonder that so few people are successful in bringing racial discrimination cases against their employer. Employment law is a totally uneven playing field, with claimants having little access to legal assistance and employers like those from Oxford University having unlimited funds to fight their victims. I understand why most of them give up, the threats of costs and the stress is unbearable in a lot of cases.

The Employment Appeal Tribunal ordered that the case of Gregory Lewis V New College, Oxford University was subject to a full Appeal Hearing in London. Nothing will change until we insist that the laws against racial discrimination are upheld. Black people suffering racial discrimination at work should not be experiencing it all over again in the Employment Tribunals and courts that are their only recourse.

Judgement of the Employment Appeal Tribunal:

Unfortunately, Gregory’s situation is not unfamiliar. I have spoken to many black people, who have experienced similar treatment when applying for promotion. We as a people should be long past the stage where, when trying to progress through hard work and dedication, we are regarded as ‘uppity’ and expected to shuffle our feet, say ‘yes massa’, and be grateful for whatever lowly position these institutionally racist employers decide we are good enough for.

Victory at Employment Appeal Tribunal Hearing

The hearing took place on October 14th 2011. The judge in the original Employment Tribunal hearing made submissions for the appeal which included this statement regarding racial stereotyping:

‘It was, of course, the Claimant and his representative who raised the question of “stereotypical” views of Black Caribbean males. I still do not believe that there is a stereotypical view of Black Caribbean males being “lazy and stupid”. They may have a more “relaxed” approach to life than other ethnic groups but that is not in any way a derogatory assessment and in any event was not in reality a relevant feature in this case. The Tribunal was unanimously satisfied that the Respondent’s assessment of the Claimant was as identified of paragraph 51 of the Written Reasons which related purely to the assessment of the Claimant as an individual and was not based on any stereotypical view of male Caribbeans’. (Judge Coles)

The EAT judgement (MR G F LEWIS v NEW COLLEGE OXFORD) says: ‘We agree with Ms Robinson (acting for Gregory Lewis on behalf of the Bar Pro Bono Unit and only instructed on the morning of the hearing) that here the judge has at least given the appearance of holding a stereotypical view, in that he takes a view that a more relaxed approach to life is exhibited by Black Caribbean males, than by other groups. In our judgment, that is inappropriate. It is put as an allegation of actual bias but we prefer to regard it, and we uphold it, as being an allegation of apparent bias.

Given that there was evidence as to stereotypes, it ought to have been dealt with and not been the substitution of a view by the judge. The matter which worried Judge Hand’s division of this Tribunal was the finding by the judge and Mr Cameron in their subsequent comments, that there was no such attitude towards Black Caribbean men in this country, a view which surprised very much the lay members in Judge Hand’s division and Judge Hand too.

In that respect, it is a matter that we too might have a view about. Since there is no challenge before us to the evidence which Ms Ruskin (Gregory Lewis’s partner who represented him at the Employment Tribunal) says she put before the Tribunal as to a divergent view of two universities (we have not seen it), we consider that there would have been substance in her submission and it was not fair for the Tribunal to form such a view.’

Smugness and Superiority exhibited by New College Oxford management: Snobbery or racism?

From the EAT judgement: ‘Further, we consider there is substance in Ms Robinson’s point that given that at least Mr Cameron considered that the witness team from New College was smug and superior, that should have been a matter which was dealt with in the Judgment in accordance with its duty to make inferences. Were they smug and superior because they were above a mere chef? Or was it anything to do with the fact that he was Black Caribbean?’

(In fact Judge Coles said in his written comments to the EAT that: ‘I note that in the comments from the member Mr Cameron he refers to the facial expressions of the University witnesses and observers potentially being described as having ‘an air of being smug and superior’ and that was certainly a perception which all members of the tribunal reached’).

‘Particularly in the light of what Ms Robinson contends is a highly dismissive superior and arrogant approach by Dr Parrott in responding to the Claimant when he raised the issue of what “Mr Pangloss” meant.’(A comment made by Dr Parrott about Gregory Lewis during his interview). ‘The don was to produce a three-page essay which had some unfortunate epithets about stupidity and malice. Irony was not what was called for. The Tribunal ought to have decided these matters in relation to whether or not there was any race discrimination involved in the decision to dismiss in the light of all that material.’

‘As a matter of law, the Claimant is entitled to a fair hearing by three persons who all have an open mind and who make decisions on the basis of what they hear together. If one of them does not meet that test, then the decision must be set aside.’

The decision of the original tribunal has been set aside and remitted to a freshly constituted panel at the Employment Tribunal.

Lee Jasper

Campaign For Racial Equality at Oxford University

Gregory Lewis,
Lee Jasper,
Press Release on behalf of Lee Jasper and The Campaign for Racial Equality at Oxford University.
Gregory Lewis: worked as a chef in Oxford University kitchens for 18 years
Racism: Oxford University students 'blacked up' for a  'bop'

Lee Jasper: human rights and equality campaigner

Gregory Lewis, left, with the Reverend Jesse Jackson who has spoken out about the lack of black students at Oxford.

Press coverage
The Voice have been extremely accurate in their coverage of this case, it is much appreciated.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Is the “Choc Ice” our new national mascot? By Dr Ornette D Clennon

When people find the term ‘choc ice’ racist and offensive but not the acquitted televised ‘ironic’ rantings of a recent footballer, as a country we really are in what I hope is a temporary state of confusion (code for trouble with a capital T) about our rich multi ethnic heritage.

The ‘choc ice’ debacle, if we’re not careful will become a symbol for our national reluctance to discuss race openly and rationally. As a nation, many of us seem loathe to address our colonial past and through the back breaking (and sometimes life ending) work of its former colonies, a past that put the ‘Great’ in Great Britain (and Northern Ireland).

In fact, it is precisely our post colonial present which makes our country one of the most ethnically diverse and tolerant in the world and I’m not even talking about the significant ethnic and devolution-making dynamics between our four kingdoms; an incredibly important part of our multi ethnic history in the first place.

However, our recent colonial past did not leave with us without a sometimes-unpleasant aftertaste of postcolonial racism (and I am sure the other kingdoms would recognise elements of this in relation to the perceived denigration of their cultures).

So here we are, as actors on our most high profile and arguably the most influential cultural stage (platform) we have in this country; namely Football. It is on this stage that the debate about race and its inherent historical narratives are played out.

It is as though, as a nation we were no longer able to hold our tongues and we needed to voice our deep seated, hidden concerns about race, as stirred up by recent visible immigration and economic turbulence/decline. So, taking audience participation to the next level, we chose the national theatre of Football to air our concerns and fears, or perhaps with the line of events,

Football bid for the rights to stage this sometimes, Shakespearian tragic farce. What is wrong with that? Some people will ask. My answer to them is simply, ‘choc ice’.

To elevate ‘choc ice’ to the level of pernicious racial abuse whilst ignoring Terry ‘s acquittal and Blatter’s handshake comments amongst a litany of other race related incidents, shows that this particular arena is ill equipped to examine and reflect upon issues of racial discrimination both overt and more dangerously, covert, in that it fails to recognise the not so nuanced distinction between one term that encapsulates the feeling of betrayal and lack of solidarity against oppression as opposed to the other that is a vehicle for the said oppression.

Perhaps, I am being naive and condescending to think that this arena and its vocal proponents are intellectually ill equipped to distinguish between different types of race-related comments and equally unable to track the historical narratives behind them.

Some might say that I do them a great disservice. If I agree that I am being condescending to such people, it leads me to an even more unpleasant conclusion that such apparently willful ignorance is actually a ruse designed to obstruct or deflect intelligent debate about racism.

A ruse designed to keep the masses (as symbolised by the arena of Football) in a state of ignorance about the power dynamic between the political (ethnic) majority and the political (ethnic) minority. There seems to be a plan to keep the status quo at all costs by elevating knee jerk ‘choc ice’ reactions above the material issues of deep seated and damaging racism in our national consciousness, as expressed in our national sporting outlet.

By ‘status quo’ I mean, a position where we do not seem able to fairly address issues of tolerance, respect and protection of our minorities without pernicious ridicule using displays of unthinking ignorance about legitimate concerns. I have not even addressed the legal ruling of the moment that appears to be one national institution upholding the gate keeping duties of another in maintaining the current status quo of indifferent race relations. I suppose the ‘choc ice’ as a mascot brilliantly represents those on all sides who wish to dismantle our great diversity, rendering us a nation, powerless and fallen akin to a hairless Samson!

By Dr Ornette D Clennon, Lecturer and Research Fellow, Manchester Metropolitan University

Friday, 13 July 2012

John Terry verdict illustrates the degree of racism within the UK Criminal Justice System.

Where is the Justice?
John Terry has been acquitted of using threatening abusive and insulting remarks in a racially aggravated context contrary to the Public Order and Crime Disorder Acts. For many Black people this will be another case that exemplifies the ways in which the British justice system seems to be incapable of delivering justice for Black British citizens.

This case was important for Britain, it was a litmus test as to the extent to which the dynamics and reality of racism are understood and accepted by the Courts. There was no dispute about the fact of the matter on the 23 October 2011 at the Loftus Road Stadium: John Terry in front of the entire nation called Queen Park Rangers player Anton Ferdinand a “fucking black cunt”.

The facts were not disputed but the motivation and context were. The prosecution contended that the words were spoken with venomous intent. Terry argued that he was being ironically sarcastic simply asking Ferdinand if he was accusing him of saying those particular hateful words. Terry admitted that he was ‘angry’ and had used those words but argued he had not meant them by way of insult.

The presiding Senior Court Judge Howard Riddle concluded there was no evidence that John Terry had meant the words to be insulting.  He came to this conclusion despite Terry’s own admission, the context of the match itself and the millions who witnessed the events during the live broadcast of the match.

It is bizarre that this Judge accepted Terry’s account and this is part of the problem we face when some Judges who have no experience and understanding of racism, allow the prejudice of white privilege to infect their judgments. The results are that black people are routinely looked on with suspicion and are disbelieved. The root problem here is that institutional racism produces a culture of denial, a culture of doubt, where white racial stereotypes pervert justice.

That dynamic is largely unrecognised in the court room: with so few black magistrates and judges the culture of the British courtroom is loaded against black people attempting to seek justice.

The result is black victims are disbelieved where the perpetrator is white. Black defendants are disbelieved when protesting innocence. If found guilty black people receive disproportionately longer sentences and once in jail are less likely to receive parole.

Both police and the courts treat black prosecution witnesses with appalling callousness and a criminal disregard for their safety.

To many in the black community the criminal justice system seems incapable of treating black people fairly either as victims of crime, witnesses or suspects. Time after time we seek justice and receive nothing but insults and the almost routine denial of justice.  One look at the Governments Section 95 reports on racism in the criminal justice system illustrates the ongoing and abiding level of institutional racism that infects the administration of justice.

This judgement will give a green light to “ironic racist abuse”. As black British citizens we will have to rise up and challenge the institutional racism of the criminal justice system. We must take the fight for justice to the streets and press the politicians for criminal justice reforms because otherwise our children will continue to suffer the indignities of being regarded as third class citizens in a supposedly first class democracy.

This perverse judgment should be appealed.

*Lee Jasper

*Lee Jasper will be speaking at: 


27th July at 6.00pm at Stratford Advice Arcade

Further reading:

Friday, 6 July 2012

Boris Johnson’s sweetness is London’s weakness: Race & Policing in the Olympic City.

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Boris Johnson: race equality is not important in his world

London is the most ethnically and religiously diverse city on the face of the planet. As we prepare to welcome people from all over the world to the London Olympics they will be greeted by a city that is a vision of the future.

London is the world in one city and visitors can expect to find communities, food, and religious beliefs representing the four corners of the globe. In an increasingly globalised world more major cities will begin to look increasingly like London.
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That hyper racial and cultural diversity so readily apparent on the meandering streets of London, so resplendent in its dynamic multiculturalism that helped London win the 2012 Olympic Games, fascinates and beguiles peoples coming from drab monocultural societies. This multicultureality is part of London’s distinct charm and appeal. 

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However that most remarkable smiling cultural dynamism seen on London’s streets and markets instantly disappears once you enter the po-faced, formal and stiff neo Victorian world of the City of London. Nowhere is this contrast sharper than in the areas of the financial service sector and London governance. 

Here we enter the almost culturally exclusive world of wealthy white men where diversity is looked upon as exceptional, where those therein look more like the Britain of the 1950’s: old male pale and stale.
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As anxiety around the country about the state of our economy grows with every passing day and the Euro zone threatens to end the world as we know it, the media reports schizophrenically and simultaneously on the continuing economic crisis, the Queens Jubilee, Euro Championships, Wimbledon and now the London 2012 Olympics.

Whilst the diversity reflected on the streets of London, will be also be reflected within the national Olympic athletes teams, by the spectators from around the world, once one enters the City of London and London governance that diversity instantly vanishes.

London’s commitment to equality and diversity in employment and politics is revealed as mere tokenistic window dressing. 

The Mayors Office, the London Assembly, the City of London Corporation, London Government Association, Local Councils and the halls of high finance in the city, resemble a racial hierarchy, a cultural exclusiveness, an ‘old boys’ club that is resolutely white and male.

In a city like London these circumstances are a recipe for disaster and discord. Such huge racial divides and the distinct lack of diversity in the corridors of power and influence pose a serious threat to the city.

African, Caribbean and Asian descendant communities amongst an international cohort of refugee and asylum seeker communities are growing in number and are becoming deeply alienated by the huge racial disparities in terms of their reducing life chances and dearth of opportunities.

There is a huge and growing difference between wealthy white London and the majority multicultural impoverished London. This is a city divided by deep economic, structural racial disparities that are becoming more entrenched as the economic crisis continues.

The Olympics, we are told by the Prime Minister David Cameron, will bring £30m billion into the London economy. I can confidently predict that London’s Black and Muslim communities will not benefit from the huge injection of cash. Trickle down economics never ever reached these communities in the boom times.  The word in the black community is that in economic terms we are all black now as people who have enjoyed years of white privilege in the city are introduced to the black experience of increasing rates of unemployment and poverty.

As the media focuses on the issue of the continuing financial scandals of the Square Mile, across inner city London the hot smoldering embers of economic and social injustice burn bright.

We saw these embers ignite as the issue of deaths in police custody and an acute sense of injustice acted as the spark that promoted the riotous disturbances of August 2011. This profound crisis and the reality of a deeply divided city remain largely ignored. The mass of black and poor people in London have been left to fester and ferment.

The media and press, whose pressrooms rarely include any black journalists and whose limited understanding of racism is derived from their own superficial experiences and infects their perspective on race issues, news stories and editorials results in distinct racial bias in news reporting.

How many black reporters senior or otherwise are there at the main media companies such as the London Evening Standard or LBC Radio?

This lack of diversity in the media finds its mirror image in London’s Mayoralty. After 8 years the Mayor Boris Johnsons team of senior advisors does not reflect London. This results in serious policy weaknesses that relegates the political priority accorded to racial equality policy.

Compounded by the ideological Tory mantra that refuses to recognise difference and racial disadvantage in terms of policy I see the consequences as tensions continue to build.

Policing is a good example of the fundamental political weakness that sits at the heart of London governance.  The Mayor of London Boris Johnson has radically transformed the notion of Police accountability in the Metropolitan Police Service.

The MPS is the largest police organisation in England and Wales, and has a leading role in national and international policing. It has a workforce of around 50,000, including 32,000 police officers and 4,000 police community support officers. It serves a city with more than 7.6 million residents and 1.1 million daily commuters. 10% of Met officers are from an ethnic background, which is significantly less than the 40% that would be representative of the London population. They have no significant representation in the Commissioners Senior Management Team that has become increasingly white over the last four years.

As the Mayor Boris Johnson signaled that he has no serious commitment to the issue of race equality so the MPS reverted to its monocultural default setting that has seen the return of rampant and resurgent levels of unrestrained institutional racism.

Critical to achieving a police service that is informed by the principle of policing by consent and is reflective of London’s diversity is the constant and relentless political pressure needed to ensure even the most modest progress is made.

My experience whilst responsible for Equality policy in Ken Livingstone’s administration is just that. We applied massive pressure to ensure equality policies were prioritized and even where these policies were agreed and adopted, we found we had to forensically monitor progress on a monthly basis to ensure progress.

Boris Johnsons lack of political and policy commitment to race equality acts as deadweight on effective policy innovation and implementation.

Constant pressure is required and in the absence of that, the police culture eats equality policy for breakfast.  Boris Johnson has barely paid lip service to race equality.  His Race & Faith report examining the barriers to recruitment, promotion and retention of Black officers declared that the MPS was now free of institutional racism.

This was a fundamental and catastrophic error as the catalogue of police racism cases of late has revealed. The awful truth is there are thousands of similar cases where the victims having no faith in the discredited MPS complaints process choose not to make a complaint.

During the last year, there have been significant changes to the MPS leadership and governance arrangements, with the arrival of a new Management Board and the transfer of responsibilities from the 23-member Metropolitan Police Authority (MPA) to the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime (MOPAC).

The new Policing Commissioner for London, Deputy Mayor Stephen Greenhalgh, seems psychologically unsuited to the job and has already dismissed the London Assembly Police and Crime Committee as an irrelevance. He has no experience of operational policing and even less experience of race and policing issues. His appointment will be, I predict, a disaster for London.

The old MPA was the most diverse police authority in the UK. During its first four years the majority of the MPA members selected by our administration were Black or Asian.

The MPS had the highest number of senior Black officers of any force in the UK.  In City Hall and the GLA the majority of senior employees in the top 5% band of salaries were Black. Whilst on the boards of London organisations and institutions where the Mayor had nomination rights, we selected more Black and Asian people onto those boards than at any time since the demise of the GLC.  Examine these institutions today after four years of Tory administration and Black and Asian representation has been reduced to tokenistic levels. This trend exemplifies the deliberate and calculated ethnic cleansing of London Government. The consequences of this for London have been profound.

The August riots of 2011 were avoidable and the reality is that the Mayors failure to ensure a diverse team in City Hall and the MPS cost London dear and will do so again if not remedied soon.

Despite Boris’s undoubted popularity, ideological hostility to race equality does not come cheap.  It has to be recognised that these costs will become greater as alienation increases.
Public sector cuts, all supported by this myopic Mayor has seen black unemployment jump to astronomic levels currently running at 56%. We are suffering a “Greek” style economic crisis right here in London.

This should alarm and appall all right thinking politicians and citizens. The consequences are profound and will, if left unaddressed, plunge London into a spiral of conflict, crime and civil disturbances.

The policing of the riots and the sentences handed out to rioters is contrasted in the minds of London’s excluded communities with the lack of action on MP’s expenses, bankers bonuses and the billions of pounds stolen as result of white collar crime. The Libor scandal is a case in point. It is clear that grand fraud has taking place on an unprecedented scale and yet not a single person has been arrested.

There is an increasing view that the MPS no longer polices black communities with consent and that there is one law for the rich and wealth and another for the poor and black.

The Stephen Lawrence Inquiry report recommendations have been abandoned, the forensic monitoring structures dismantled. If that was not bad enough now we hear that Boris is about to abolish groups such as the Lambeth Consultative Groups established as a result of the Scarman Inquiry into the riots of the 1980’s.  Based in London boroughs these are key community consultative forums that hold police to local account.  Anyone can walk in off the street, join, get elected and the next day be talking to their local Borough Commander or the Commissioner.

Groups like the one in Lambeth offer a key forum for challenging police malpractice, informing local policing strategies, challenging institutional racism and allows for a vital channel for communication between the police and local communities. Lambeth is legendary in that regard and has a long and distinguished record of raising issues such as stop and search, deaths in custody, use of police informers and challenging gun and knife crime.

Boris is going to get rid of these groups and replace them with a new body that will have no accountability and will be handpicked by the Mayor and local police commanders.

Having eviscerated all progress on the Lawrence report, Boris now seeks to attack the legacy of Scarman. It is a scandal and no amount of cheery bonhomie, quirky Latin quotes and ruffling of hair can hide the fact that this Mayor is intent in dismantling all real accountability for policing outside the confines of City Hall.

It is vital that these fundamental weaknesses in City Hall are addressed now. Post Olympics we will see massive cuts to the policing budget. £769 million – the amount the MPS will need to save between 2011 and 2015 3,280 – the number of posts the force plans to cut by 2015. 1,410 of these will be police officer posts 1230 PCSO’s Police Staff 640.

This will leave local forces unable to effectively tackle crime in the context of growing unemployment and massive rise in the levels of poverty.

Boris’s ideological hatred of race equality and his commitment to implementing austerity cuts will leave Londoners facing future disturbances that will cost the city millions, and the poor and vulnerable will be doubly victimized as they are left over policed as result of racial profiling and under protected as a result of the decline in the economy and increased rates of crime and violence.

Lee Jasper

Stop Making Your Mothers Cry - Real Talk/RealAction

Straight talk from a young man worth watching.

Published on YouTube 5 Jul 2012 by

Craig Pinkney with another powerful message, aimed at urban youth presenting challenges to their parents. This message is specifically to all youth that purposely choose to live negative lifestyles, make the wrong choices and don't take into consideration the heart ache such decisions have on their mothers...

For more info or bookings contact Craig Pinkney on: Email: or
Twitter: @RealActionuk "it's about turning Real Talk in2 RealAction"

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Letter from Lee Jasper to Commisioner Howe requesting arrest of Bob Diamond

I sent a letter to Commissioner Howe requesting the immediate arrest of Bob Diamond under the Fraud Act 2006. You can see it here....

Commissioner Metropolitan Police
Mr Bernard Hogan Howe
New Scotland Yard
London SW1

Thursday 5th July 2012.

Re Financial Services Authority report into Barclays fixing of Libor and Euribor interest rates.

Dear Commissioner Howe,

I write this open and public letter to make a formal criminal compliant about Barclays former Chief Executive Bob Diamond, his senior management team and other employees who during the period between 2007 and 2009, at the peak of the global banking crisis, fraudulently filed artificially low Libor and Euribor rates resulting in the defrauding of billions of pounds of public money. I believe that these actions constitute serious criminal acts as defined by the Fraud Act 2006.

The potential scale of this criminal act of fraud demands that the MPS Serious Fraud squad, in the interest of justice, immediately secures all relevant evidence and without delay arrest all those suspected of being involved with immediate effect.

The lack of action to date by the MPS Serious Fraud Squad is inexplicable and is sharp contrast to the effort, resources and commitment of the MPS to prosecute individuals alleged to have taken part in the disturbances of August 2011 sparked by the shooting of Mark Duggan.

The vigorous approach adopted by the MPS to arresting suspected rioters and the sloth like response to an extremely serious crime that could potentially affect millions of individuals and companies alike, defrauding them of potentially billions of pounds, illuminates the policing priorities of the MPS. There is, as you know, a body of growing public opinion that believes that there is one law for the rich another for the poor.

It is in the public interest that arrests are made and additional evidence secured quickly if public confidence in the unbiased equal application of criminal law for all citizens regardless of status or wealth is to be regained.

Lord Justice Mansfield in the case of enslaved African seeking freedom James Somerset in 1729 said “ Let justice prevail even although the heavens may fall.”

I urge you to end the prevarication of the MPS on these matters and enforce the law of the land.
Yours sincerely

Lee Jasper
Co Chair of BARAC
Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts UK

Cc Mayor of London

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Tackling Racism in the UK in the 21st Century

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Jobs and Freedom March on Washington 1963

I read with great interest the recent article by my friend and comrade Liberal Democratic Councillor Lester Holloway entitled “Putting the movement back into the anti racist movement”.

Lester’s article bemoans the demise of a once vibrant anti racist movement. Reflecting on the anti racist struggle for race equality and justice in the mid 1980’s and 1990’s he harks back to a more passionate age where activists were found on every street corner, bold conferences were held highlighting and exposing racism and people were not afraid of speaking truth to power.

He contrasts this with the reality today where most black organisations are politically emasculated and remain largely silent on the issues of the day.

He points out that during the last 20 years, institutional racism and its effects has worsened whilst we as a community have become increasingly politically marginalised and ineffective.

The article had particular resonance for me as I was involved in many of the black/anti racist organisations he cites in this article. There is much truth in what Lester says and I for one am hoping that it will kick start a much needed debate as to where we go from here. There are some points I disagree with but it would be both churlish and lead to an unnecessarily sterile debate to rehearse these points by way of response. Much more important is the substantive issue raised by his article that the anti racist movement, once vibrant has now lost momentum.

Lester points out that we have failed to nurture young talent. I could not agree more: that is the real reality that now needs to be both accepted and dealt with. There is an urgent and burning need to nurture and educate new leaders in how to more effectively challenge racism and injustice.

Our failure to do so has cost us dear and the August riots of 2011 bare testimony to the fact that we have failed to provide the necessary leadership and succession planning to facilitate the emergence of young leaders capable of organising and representing youth in crisis.

I would argue that the profound economic crisis in the black community, exacerbated through the powerful magnifying lens of racism, is tearing our community apart and has led to a weakening of our resolve to fight racism, a decimation of the black voluntary sector as a result of public sector cuts and as a result a virtual silencing of our strong political voice.

The public hi-tech racist media lynching.

As most people will know, others and I were the victims of a sustained and ruthless campaign led by the London Evening Standard. From Dec 2007 until May 2008 both Ken Livingstone the then Mayor and I as his political adviser, were subjected to a relentless and deeply racist media smear campaign. The length and breadth of this campaign was and remains unprecedented in British political history. For nearly 7 months the media whose real agenda was to defeat Ken Livingstone, used London’s black communities and me as their whipping boy to undermine Ken. Effectively we were nothing more than political road kill in Boris Johnson’s remorseless drive for power.

Initially many from our community defended and publically supported me. But as the campaign intensified and month after month those attack increased so that support began to wane and fall away. As time wore on I saw people physically wilt under the weight of continually defending me from scurrilous and unfounded allegations.

To be attacked for a week or a month is one thing to be attacked for nearly 7 months on a daily basis took its toll on that support. Quite simply it was beyond the experience of most black people and organisations. It was one of the most sustained racist media campaigns ever seen in British political history.

Supporters were threatened with similar ‘exposure’ by the press and understandably as a result were increasingly reluctant to speak out. Organisations concerned for their funding for the most part kept quiet. As the months passed it became clear that the Standard was intent on targeting anybody who spoke out in my defence.  Others seeing an opportunity to make good their own political fortunes or settle old scores began to feed the racist media firestorm with more smears, lies and innuendo.

In the end all but the most principled and strongest stood by me.  Tribute needs to be made to those like Lester Holloway and others too many to mention here who were resolute and unflinching in their support. Many paid a price for doing so, some losing work, some being targeted and marginalised and others were simply exhausted with continually publically defending me from a barrage of allegations.

Most damaged were those innocents who were caught up in the initial media campaign by association with me. The press attacked them leaving families psychologically damaged, politically marginalised and financially ruined as a result. To see peoples lives destroyed in such a callous and malicious media driven racist attack was excruciatingly painful for me. It is that pain of family, friends and colleagues that will remain with me all my life. More than 17 people were arrested and had their lives ruined.

I lay claim to being the most forensically investigated black man in Britain having endured 18 month investigations by Boris Johnson’s Forensic Audit Panel, Metropolitan Police Services, Financial Services Authority, DLA Piper Forensic Accountants, London Development Agency, the London Assembly, Companies House and the Charity Commission all of whom declared that  “there is no case to answer”.  Not that you saw that in the news to any large extent. Such things are routinely ignored or relegated to a small paragraph next to the horse racing results.

Despite a myriad of serious accusations being made not a single person was charged with any offence.

As a hardened activist even I was taken a back at the ferocity, length and forensic nature of the campaign. This continues to pain me most, to have witnessed the dire physical, emotional and financial effects on close friends and colleagues. To witness great black organisations who had done nothing other than defend me and challenge the racism of the press and to see them driven into the ground watching helplessly as their funding evaporated like the morning dew.

Under attack we don’t fight back.

The consequent effect of this campaign was to frighten and intimidate black and anti racist organisations from speaking out against injustice. Ultimately it was an exercise in control, intimation and discipline.

In addition during the last 4 years we have seen massive cuts to the black voluntary sector that has substantively reduced our capacity to organise effectively.  Organisations have closed, services lost, staff and client teams dismantled and management committees disbanded.

Why the ant racist movement has run out of steam.

In addition, we have seen a sustained and on going political attack led by the PM David Cameron and his Cabinet on the principles of multiculturalism and anti racism. Race equality as a policy priority has been relegated and marginalised. A new crop of Tory Black right-wingers have conspired with the press to pathologise black communities, identifying black people as the authors of our own misfortune and dismissing the reality of racism as a fiction.  Our networks were wiped out and those that do remain are much reduced in their capacity to do anything meaningful and sustained.

Meanwhile post 9/11the left in general has focused on Islamaphobia at the cost of campaigning on wholesale institutional racism of the state. The immergence of the racist English Defence League targeting Muslim communities reinforced that trend. As a result the issues of stop and search, school exclusions, deaths in custody, racism in the workplace and in recruitment have been ignored.

In 2008 during and after the elections I was asked to resign as the chair of Operation Black Vote and Equanomics both mentioned in Lester’s article. The 1990 Trust board refused to consider my return as a Trustee. All argued that politically I was a ‘toxic’ brand. Having been asked to stand down by people I respected I had no choice but to comply. In essence they were right although I disagreed with them at the time I came to value their counsel, allowing me more time with my family and to recuperate from the battering I had taken.

Since then attempting to rebuild new movements such as Operation Hope & Recovery and Black Activists Rising against the Cuts (BARAC) has been hugely difficult. Personally challenged financially as a consequence of legal costs associated with clearing my name, and carrying the burden of being politically marginalised, makes this task comparable to climbing Everest without any shoes. 

Despite this I have sought to continue to support families suffering injustice and represent black people struggling to confront racism and injustice. Without the basic requirement of an office and resources this becomes a task of herculean proportions.

We need fresh leadership.

Where I do agree with Lester is the need to help facilitate the next crop of young black radical leaders. We must do more in helping that young talent onto the national stage and provide the necessary support, advice and guidance that will allow them to benefit from the experience of seasoned activists.

Comparisons with the USA and leaders such as Reverend Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are unfair. African Americans are more homogeneous and have the benefit of Affirmative Action legislation that created a black middle class that has more political leverage than we do here in the UK. That is in addition to their huge numbers, their iconic civil rights struggle and their political and economic power developed over 300 years of campaigning.

Black communities in Europe and the UK have been around in significant numbers for a significantly shorter period. Most are relative newcomers who are much more culturally and religiously diverse than the African American community. This means the shared political, historical religious, cultural narrative and understanding of the lived experience of racism in the UK differs for many Diaspora black communities. This lack of a national single shared political narrative is disabling and makes building consensus among UK’s black communities much more difficult as a result.

Our most fundamental weakness, our real Achilles heel if you will, is the absence of a strong black economy capable of funding and sponsoring our own struggle. I cannot emphasis this enough, without our own financial base our fight for equality and justice is comparable to carrying water in a basket.

The future: Where do we go from here?

My thoughts are that there is an urgent need for a unifying national anti racist conference that can inject some greater level of organisational cohesiveness to a movement shattered and broken as a result of a sustained attack by the ascendant right and their allies in the press.

I have argued for the adoption of an admittedly defensive ‘circle the wagons’ strategy for at least two years. In 2009 I wrote to all national black organisations and suggesting a joint meeting to discuss how the cuts would impact our communities. Suffice to say that such was my fall from grace in some people’s eyes that I did not receive a single reply. Despite that I remain convinced that UK black organisations need to be unified and working together on a shared political agenda for radical change.

These organisations made the political calculation that they would be better off financially working with Government rather than building mass movements to radically challenge state racism. I can understand that they had employees with families and mortgages to pay. The real tragedy was, as a result of them keeping silent nobody heard them scream when the cuts eventually came.  Ironically today most of these black organisations have closed, are on the verge of closing and politically muzzled on a short lead.  Throughout the last decade the black struggle for race equality and anti racism became depoliticised: reduced to nothing more than a safe series of ‘diversity management frameworks’ devised by consultants.

With racism in the UK getting worse as the economy declines, the need for a fresh impetus and new tactics is abundantly clear. BARAC has joined hands with the Occupy Movement and UK Uncut in recognition of the need to develop new alliances in the struggle for equality.

We have established these strong alliances in an effort to recognise the need to reach out to young people. 

My real fear is that we will be the first UK black generation that bequeaths to its young people a society that is more, not less racist, than that gifted to us by the Windrush generation.

They self sacrificed to ensure we, their children, had real opportunities that they did not. As we contemplate the future for our children we must consider what is the legacy we wish to leave them?  I say the only legacy worth leaving is a strong commitment to achieve equality in our lifetime, not in 50 or 100 or 300 years but now. As British citizens our children deserve no less and if we fail then so we shall be rightly cursed as the generation who abandoned their prime historical and moral imperative to push their children on. 

Moving on to the future and how we no respond to the challenge we face as outlined in part in Lester’s article I do think it important to outline a possible way forward in the struggle for race equality.

BARAC has agreed a major discussion framework for a major push next year to address some of these issues and take this debate forward.

Equality in our Life Time: A National March on for Jobs and Justice

2013: The 50th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther Kings famous “I have a dream” speech.

On August 28th 1963 Dr Martin Luther King led the historic civil rights Jobs and Freedom March on Washington. The march attracted over 300,000 people in a unique and historic effort to end racial segregation, racial prejudice and Jim Crow legislation in the United States.

Dr Kings now legendary “I have a dream” speech was the most articulate and urgent clarion call for justice envisioning the future arrival of a just and non-racial America. The March on Washington with Dr King has become the most defining and resounding image of the US civil rights struggle and the reference point for international campaigns for the adoption and promotion of global human rights.

50 years later and here in the UK racism and prejudice continues to plague human relations and violates human rights across the world. The dream of a world where the antiquated and ideas of racism and irrational prejudice were consigned to the dustbin of history have yet to be realised in the 21st Century.  That’s why we have to march again to revitalise a new anti racist movement and ensure we push our issues back onto the political and media agenda.

Racism and injustice continues to blight the lives of millions of British citizens and as a result of the current economic is both exacerbating and increasing rates of racism. We are in real danger that yet more generations of our people will be subject to a lifetime of discrimination.

The challenges for this generation are to embark on a sustained national political campaign to end structural social and economic racism and deliver the dream of real race equality in our lifetime.

We are calling for a recreation of that famous iconic march on Washington with a march in 2013 in London. 50 years after Kings enigmatic speech we are free but not yet equal. Racism in 2012 is on the rise and the very future of our children and grandchildren is at stake. Our community cannot afford to see its black voluntary sector demolished, we cannot afford to see more of our young people unemployed, rotting in jails or becoming depressed with mental illness nor can we be denied justice at the hands of the police and the courts.

Lester’s article has ignited a debate of which this response is but one part. BARAC is suggesting this discussion continues within the context of the 50th Anniversary of the historic 1963 march on Washington. We want to move the debate onto where we go from here in the run up to a general election due to take place on the 7th May 2015.

BARAC is inviting black organisations nationwide to sign up to a broad discussion that explores the potential of reaching consensus agreement to:

  • Attend the National Coordinating Committee for the March and help us develop the main anti racist demands and produce a mobilisation strategy for the march. 

  • To join with us in helping to formulate a national set of demands for jobs and justice.

  • To explore the possibility of holding major black organisations AGM’s and or national conferences during one week in 2013. We are suggesting a National Black Convention to be held during one week at a residential venue in early September 2012.

This initiative will be presented and discussed at the forthcoming BARAC public meeting on 27th July. Speakers include Marcia Rigg, Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, John McDonnell MP (invited), Zita Holbourne & Lee Jasper, Joint National Chairs of BARAC and more speakers to be confirmed.  We hope you will join us.

Venue: Stratford Advice Arcade, 107-109 The Grove, Stratford, London, E15 1HP, 5 minutes walk from Stratford Rail, Tube and Bus stations.

Lee Jasper