COMPLAINT: Warren Simpson
AN ONLINE petition to suspend an employment tribunal judge over his “gratuitous” use of the word n****r during a race discrimination case is growing daily.
The world’s largest petition platform Change.org is calling on David Latham, president of the UK’s employment tribunals to suspend judge John Macmillan after he oversaw a case involving Warren Simpson, a fire station commander based in Birmingham.
Father-of-three Simpson, 48, from Corby, is claiming he was passed over for promotion by the West Midlands Fire Service for seven years because he was black, during which time he says he was also bullied and harassed. He is said to be the highest ranking black fire officer in the West Midlands.
The fire service denied all the accusations during a two-week hearing which ended on Friday September 20. A judgement is expected by mid-November.
The race row centres around Macmillan saying the words “f***ing lazy n****r” when barrister David Maxwell, for the fire service, was explaining an incident in 2004 when football manager Rob Atkinson was heard off camera using these words to describe Chelsea footballer Marcel Desailly.
During the tribunal, Maxwell spelt out the words rather than pronouncing them, but Macmillan, it is claimed, enunciated the words in a “gratuitous” way, according to Cordell Simpson, of Race4Justice, who was representing Warren Simpson, and is also his wife.
In the hearing’s second week she made a recusal application, asking for the judge and his two lay panel members to be stood down, but this was refused by the judge.
It is reported that Macmillan further insulted the Simpsons by repeating the words during the recusal application, then saying minutes later to a stunned courtroom that he “couldn’t remember” if he had used the words that day or not.
The Society of Black Lawyers (SBL) has written a formal letter of complaint to Justice Secretary Chris Grayling calling for Macmillan to be suspended.
Peter Herbert, OBE, chair of SBL, said in the letter: “This type of blatant judicial racism has not been heard in English courts for over 20 years when the use of such phrases as ‘N in the woodpile’ were sadly fairly commonplace amongst some senior members of the judiciary.
“This is not ‘political correctness’ as some may see it, but a matter that strikes at the heart of the right of all citizens to a fair hearing, free from bias. The SBL has copied this letter to the Commonwealth Judges and Magistrates Association so that the international legal community is fully aware of the type of blatant racism that it still prevalent in some corners of the British judiciary.”
The Justice Minister is being urged to hold an urgent inquiry into the judge’s conduct, while also suspending him and the two pay panel members until further notice.
The online petition at Change.org, organised by civil rights activist Lee Jasper, states: “The Society of Black Lawyers, Race4Justice and Black Activists Rising Against the Cuts (BARAC) believe there is no place for this type of blatant racism in our courtrooms.
“We call upon organisations and individuals to sign and share this petition calling on the President of the Employment Tribunal to immediately suspend Judge Macmillan pending the outcome of his investigation.”
A spokesperson for the Office for Judicial Complaints said: “The Office for Judicial Complaints has passed the complaint by the Society of Black Lawyers to the President of the Employment Tribunal for his consideration.
“The President is likely to defer full consideration of the complaint until after the outcome of the tribunal proceedings.”
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