Attorney General 'snubbed' senior black figures over Christmas party

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Attorney General was at the centre of a race row last night after being accused of snubbing a senior black lawyer and the head of equality at the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) when he failed to invite them to his Christmas drinks party.

The prestigious event, to be hosted today by Lord Goldsmith QC, the Government's senior legal officer, boasts a glittering guest list of the great and the good of the legal profession. But the two members of staff most associated with race equality issues at the CPS, an organisation for which Lord Goldsmith has government responsibility, have been excluded from the party for the second year running. Last year Lord Williams of Mostyn was the Attorney General.

Raj Joshi, head of the CPS's European and international division and chairman of the Society of Black Lawyers, said he was "appalled" when he discovered his white deputy in his department had been invited, but he had not.

He described the omission of himself and Rohan Collier, head of equality and diversity at the CPS, as particularly "insensitive" in light of a report published in the summer that found the CPS to be institutionally racist. After the report, Lord Goldsmith announced that he would head an advisory group to oversee the prosecution service's commitment to change.

Mr Joshi said this commitment now looked like lip-service paid to the report when people responsible for race issues remained on the outside.

A spokesman for the Attorney General said no one had deliberately set out to cause upset, adding: "If anything, this is a cock-up rather than a conspiracy theory." He acknowledged that both Mr Joshi and Ms Collier had been left off the guest list for the second year running while other heads of department had been invited. He said invitations would now be sent to both of them.

Mr Joshi said he had no intention of accepting a belated invitation only "begrudgingly" sent to him because he had "caused a bit of a fuss". He said: "What faith do Asian and black communities have in those who have positions of power and responsibility when these kind of things keep happening?"

Ms Collier helped to devise the CPS's race awareness training for 6,000 staff, including the director of public prosecutions, David Calvert-Smith QC.It is understood that Ms Collier complained when she was left off the guest list last year.