David Lidington rejects diversity targets for bench

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Dec 20, 2017
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David Lammy, the Labour MP, had called for targets in a review of ethnic minorities are treated in the justice system

Stefan Roussea/PA

Ministers are determined to see a “more diverse” judiciary but have ruled out targets for appointing more ethnic minority judges, the justice secretary said yesterday.

An inquiry by David Lammy, the Labour MP, into the treatment of those from minority ethnic backgrounds in the criminal justice system called for a national target to ensure there was a properly “representative” judiciary and magistracy. But David Lidington, the justice secretary and lord chancellor, said that while the government was responding “positively” to all of the inquiry’s 35 recommendations, he did not believe setting targets was the right way to tackle under-representation.

“I certainly believe that we need to see a more diverse judiciary. That view is shared by the leadership of the judges themselves,” he told BBC Radio 4’s Today.

“When you look at the judges, you have got a group of people who have been practising in the law perhaps for 20 years before they become judges.In getting a more diverse judiciary - both black and ethnic minority, but also women who are under-represented at the moment - we need to look at the critical path. How do people get into the legal professions in the first place? How can the real stars who might be judges one day be better mentored and encouraged in the path towards eventual membership of the bench?”

Lammy, a barrister who was appointed by David Cameron to look at the treatment of and outcomes ethnic minorities in the criminal justice system in England and Wales, said he was “disappointed” at the decision. He said his review “demonstrated the lack of progress over the last decade in improving diversity amongst the judges that sit in our courts, and I am clear that more of the same will not work”.

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