Who? Martin Howe, 56, founding partner at London immigration and human rights firm Howe & Co.
Why is he in the news? He won £3,000 damages on the grounds of direct racial discrimination for each of a group of Irish Travellers, English Romani Gypsies, a solicitor (himself) and others who were refused entry to a Wetherspoon’s pub in London.
The pub is next door to the venue for the annual conference of The Traveller Movement charity, from which the barred individuals had come directly.
Giving judgment at the Royal Courts of Justice, His Honour Judge Hand QC found that Wetherspoon’s decision to bar the group was ‘suffused with the stereotypical assumption that Irish Travellers and English Gypsies cause disorder wherever they go’.
Thoughts on the case: ‘Gypsies and Travellers have suffered discrimination day in, day out and have learned to accept it as if nothing can be done. This has now changed. Pubs and other venues will now realise that treating them as second-class citizens is an affront to their dignity that is no longer tolerated. This is a watershed day when Gypsies and Travellers no longer have to move on, but can hold their heads high in the knowledge that there is equal treatment for all.’
Dealing with the media: ‘The media has reported the case in a positive, accurate and honest way.’
Why become a lawyer? ‘I grew up in a tough inner London area where the Irish community was under constant suspicion throughout the Troubles. I wanted to do something to counter such prejudice.’
Career high: ‘In June 2007, winning the right to settle in the UK for Tul Bahadur Pun, an 84-year-old former Gurkha rifleman and holder of the Victoria Cross for gallantry in the second world war. The Home Office had previously refused him leave to stay in this country.’
Career low: ‘The new government’s declared intention to scrap the Human Rights Act. It was a regressive and sad day for everyone who believes in equality, fairness and human rights.’