John rages at ‘illiterate rantings’ of diversity report critics

Topics: Equality and diversity,Regulation and compliance

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  • Gus John

The author of a report clearing the Solicitors Regulation Authority of institutional racism has hit back at the ‘wild and baseless claims’ of its critics, branding them ‘illiterate rantings’.

In a lengthy defence of his 237-page report into the disproportionate representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) lawyers in the SRA’s regulatory activity, Professor Gus John (pictured) said the ‘kindest’ thing that can be said about the ‘illiterate rantings’ of the diversity groups’ response, is that they ‘did not bother’ to read the report before issuing the response.

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John’s report, published last month, found that BME solicitors are disproportionately represented among those investigated by the SRA and receive harsher sanctions. But he suggested that the regulator is not institutionally racist.

John said the problem lies instead in wider socio-economic factors which mean BME solicitors are over-represented in small firms or are sole practitioners. Both constituencies encounter greater regulatory intervention.

The Equality Implementation Group (EIG), comprising six groups representing BME solicitors, dismissed as ‘fundamentally flawed’ John’s report, which they claimed lacked any ‘evidential basis or data’ for its findings. They said his failure to draw any inference of institutional racism was a ‘shocking indictment of a costly report that promised much but has delivered very little of value’.

John said he had met members of the group and provided them with regular updates throughout the course of the review.

In a disparaging response to the group, which comprises people ‘who are supposed to be lawyers’, John said: ‘Members of the EIG could have written to me, collectively or individually, to share their reactions or concerns about my report. They all chose not to do so.’

He said he did not intend to answer the EIG’s ‘wild and baseless’ claims, but insisted that his conclusions and recommendations were based on evidence gathered and analysed in accordance with the study’s terms of reference, dismissing any allegation that the SRA had tried to ‘gag’ him or tell him what to write.

He branded the diversity groups’ verdict on his report as such a ‘caricature’ as to be a ‘complete travesty’ and accused them of seeking to ‘claim the moral high ground in the struggle against racism’.

‘It would appear that because the report does not say what the members of six practitioner groups wanted it to say, never mind the evidence, they consider themselves to be at liberty to rubbish it,’ said John.

Readers' comments (22)

  • What with updating our Turnover figures to the SRA and trying to cobble together the 1st instalment on the 2014/15 PII premium do we really have time for this !?

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  • I agree with Anonymous 03:46pm. In addition, I feel I must keep asking this question in the vain hope that somebody will answer it; why is a professor of education performing an investigation into a legal regulator's activities?

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  • The EIG is entitled to say what it likes and Professor John should respect that. His hissy fit makes him look ridiculous.

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  • Well said Professor Gus John! The EIG has its own agenda, and its views and comments can be safely dismissed.

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  • We are all agreed on one thing the numbers are disproportionate and this is very concerning, rather than argue about the reasons we need to look at a solution.

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  • Like Professor John, I find it deeply frustrating to deal with pointed criticism of work that I hold dear. It's particularly maddening when the criticism appears to be ill-informed.

    However, the mark of a professional is to take a deep breath and deal with criticism in measured, reasoned words. By responding to what he labels as "rantings" with an ill-tempered and petulant rant of his own, Professor John has chosen to lose this battle in a most undignified way.

    Very sad.

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  • Unfortunately the normal way that extreme bureaucrats respond is to try and personally rubbish their opponents instead of addressing the issues. Advocates Know that this a poor tactic because it will usually find no favour with the judge. Professor John has fallen into a trap of his own making and demonstrates his unsuitability to deal with these issues however good his report may be.

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  • So one way and another, the whole exercise was a waste of time.... what a surprise. Was it paid for out of fees that the regulated profession pays to the SRA?

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  • Sad that we all feel disinclined to comment on the SRA's activities other than anonymously - that sends a clear message about our degree of trust in how our professional regulator operates. The diversity group at the SRA does seem to be ill-informed on ,atters legal: the professor is right there- for example: the PC renewal - we were not permitted to describe our nationality as British - we had to opt for one of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom which is legally inaccurate. Thus making a nonsense of the declaration of truth on the vast majority of PC applications

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  • Sounds like he is ranting! How many ethnic minority council members are there and how many presidents of the Law Society have there been? How many ethnic minority partners are there in the top 100 law firms: hardly any. I rest my case.

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