Blog Archive

Friday, 16 June 2017

Grenfell Tower: Press Release by Leading Black Race Equality Orgs





PRESS RELEASE                   PRESS RELEASE                         PRESS RELEASE

EMBARGO: FRIDAY, 16TH JUNE 11.00 PM

Leading Black and minority organisations express their sorrow, shock, horror and outrage at the appalling tragedy of the wholly unnecessary loss of life and suffering at Grenfell Tower.

The organisations are deeply concerned with the failure of the Prime Minister to meet residents or victims and the position of the former Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell that is now untenable. We also call for the urgent assessment of all 4,000 tower blocks in the UK that are in a similar state of design and age as a matter of urgency.

The bravery of fire-fighters and local residents is to be applauded and stands in stark contrast to the failure of leadership in central and local Government who are more concerned with damage limitation with their lawyers.

We urgently make the following demands: -

1. An apology by the Prime Minister, whose Government bears the full responsibility of failing to act since 2013 and the failure to implement the Coroner’s report of 2013 on the Lakanal fire in the London Borough of Southwark;
2. The resignation of the Prime Minister’s Chief of Staff, Gavin Barwell, the former Minister of Housing who on 16th October 2016, said, “we have not set out any formal plans to review the buildings regulations as a whole”;
3. The immediate fire safety assessment of all 4,000 similar tower blocks in the UK;
4. An urgent corporate manslaughter investigation by the Metropolitan Police into Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (KCTMO); Harley Facades, Rydon and all other contractors that bear responsibility for the renovation work;
5. An Independent  Public Inquiry called by the Prime Minister, to be  chaired by a High Court Judge and address how poverty, austerity, cuts, local private property interests and unlawful discrimination affected the delivery of housing services and safety of people in  Grenfell Tower;
6. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, one of the UK’s wealthiest, be directed to rehouse all the affected families and provide emergency disaster relief to those directly affected, including trauma counselling.
7. There be immediate special measures imposed on KCTMO who have had two enforcement notices served on them in recent years, following a fire in a 14 storey block of 78 flats they own in October 2015;
8. The implementation of the Hillsborough Rule (proposed by Andy Burnham, Mayor of Manchester), where families receive legal aid to be represented after such a tragedy in any Inquest or Public Inquiry.

This tragedy appears to be the perfect storm of poor housing, cuts in local authority spending and a complete failure by the Government to implement any of the Coroners recommendations in the tragic case of the blaze in Southwark that resulted in the loss of six lives in 2011. The history of fires in UK tower blocks is nothing new with Ronan Point in May 1968, where four died; Lakanal House, July 2009 where six people died; Shirley Towers, April 2010, where two people died, with other major fires of tower blocks, as recently as last December 2016 in Dubai.

Questions must be asked as to;

1. Why the Government failed to implement the Housing safety review recommended in 2013;
2. Why the former Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell failed again to commence the fire safety review in October 2016;
3. Why RBKC failed to heed the warnings issued by Grenfell Action Group which highlighted the dangers as recently as November 2016 in reviewing the 10.8 million refurbishments to Grenfell Tower;
4. Why the RBKC failed to coordinate the volunteers and charities in the aftermath of the tragedy and solely concentrated on re-housing given their significant resources;
5. Why a disproportionate number of children and babies were allocated the top floors together with BME tenants;
6. Why Coroners Courts do not have the power to bring expedited Judicial Review proceedings to enforce compliance with their recommendations that are not carried out by Government or local authorities and others within 12 months.
These and many other questions need to be answered. Public inquiries often take years to be set up and hear evidence during which time the truth can be obscured and disappear, whilst memories can fade.
Successive Housing Ministers from 2011 onwards failed to prioritise the needs of the poor and needy who occupy social housing. The responsibility for this tragedy lies at the heart of Government in Downing Street, due to the neglect and austerity of successive Housing Ministers.

Lee Jasper, former Race Equality adviser to the Mayor of London commented,
“Whilst we grieve for the families and those missing and injured, we urge the Metropolitan Police to urgently arrest those responsible at the Kensington and Chelsea Management Organisation (KCTMO) and the relevant contractors for possible manslaughter charges and to seize all available evidence before it is destroyed. This is not only a continuing danger to the public but a crime scene. We remember all too well that when the victims are poor, black and minority people, money is saved, corners cut and investigations fail, as with the Deptford Fire.”


      Zita Holbourne, National Chair of BARAC UK stated,

     “My thoughts are with all the tenants impacted, particularly those who have lost loved ones, those who have been injured and those who have lost their homes. The effects of austerity and cuts have impacted adversely on the poorest communities, disproportionately black and minority ethnic, with those local authorities officially declared deprived facing the deepest cuts.  There also needs to be proper investment in affordable and social housing.”

D Peter Herbert O.B.E., Chair of the SBL, and former Vice Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority commented,
“Our thoughts and prayers are for the victims, and their families of this dreadful tragedy which is down not to terrorism but to the negligence and lack of care by those in power and authority. It is not the families, friends or relatives of Government Ministers who are forced to live in such dangerous property that is generally only found in social housing or the private rented sector. It is remarkable that the Prime Minister hides away from the public in Notting Hill, as she did during the election in a private visit. The SBL & AML will be conducting a series of meetings in the community and interviews with witnesses in the coming months to gather first hand testimony of what occurred”.

Rita  Patel commented,
“There are horrific accounts of whole families that have perished, with children separated and lost, parents and the elderly who have tragically disappeared with the old and the vulnerable the least likely to survive. We know that this type of property is simply not tolerated in the private sector, so why should it be acceptable in public housing? This Government has increasingly run down, privatised and neglected public housing over the years with the consequences visited on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society.”
Ismet Rahat stated,
“We are proud of our Islamic youth and our Mosques who have demonstrated their community support.  There has been an abandonment of safety standards for the poor who are forced to occupy the least popular highest floors of properties all over the UK. These are disproportionally families with young children, minorities and those suffering with a disability. No private sector tenant in a buy to let property would tolerate such safety standards, the lack of functioning fire alarms and safety systems. All faith communities have shown the type of commitment not shown by RBKC. No offer of housing has come from any member of the Royal family despite their abundance of accommodation in London.”

For further information please contact:
 Info@societyofblacklawyers.co.uk
 Info@blaksox.com


Viv Ahmun - Blaksox: 07985 395 166
D Peter Herbert OBE – SBL 07973 794 946
Zita Holbourne – BARAC UK 07711 861660
Ismet Rahat- AML -07852 146 056

Monday, 5 June 2017

BARAC UK: Use Your Vote for Race Equality on June 8th, Vote Labour


BARAC was established as an anti-cuts organisation, 7 years ago this month, to respond to and campaign against the disproportionate impact of cuts on black workers, communities and service users. Over the past 7 years we have campaigned not just against cuts but the deepening race discrimination and injustice faced by black communities. 



Throughout these seven years, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party  and John McDonnell, Shadow Chancellor have supported our campaigns, joined our rallies and events and brought out campaigns and concerns to Parliament, chairing a range of parliamentary meetings, discussions and  campaign launches,  including our Equality in Our Lifetime campaign marking the 50th anniversary of the march on Washington, Jobs and Justice, Olympic Fair Play and our 2025 vision for race equality parliamentary launch to mention just a few.



We have therefore seen first hand their commitment to race equality.



Many of the concerns that BARAC has been campaigning on, the adverse and disproportionate impact of cuts to local authorities, the NHS , public sector job cuts and pay freeze, zero hour contracts, university tuition fees, deepening poverty, insitutional racism, discrimination in the labour market and in service provision,  inadequate social housing, disproportionate stop and search are issues that Jeremy, John and the Labour Party say they will address if elected.




You can read here a statement from Jeremy Corbyn, responding to a race equality manifesto published by 20 race equality orgs including BARAC UK here: https://www.raceequality2017.org.uk/jeremy-corbyn/



If you haven't already, we would encourage you to read the Labour Party manifesto here:


http://www.labour.org.uk/page/-/Images/manifesto-2017/LabourManifestoEASYREAD.pdf


For an alternative to reading, here's a spoken word video setting out reasons to vote  and to vote Labour, If All the People Voted for the Many Not The Few:


We've also produced some Vote Labour BARAC stickers.


Inline image 1


Every vote counts on the day and failure to vote / low turnout can assign us to another 4 years of misery, more cuts, deeper racism and injustice and poverty so please speak with family, friends and networks to encourage them to use their vote on June 8th.


 "If you elect me as your Prime Minister I promise you our Government will tear down the barriers that restrict fair access to jobs, housing, homes and health care.
Under a Labour Government those hard fought race equality rights and institutions that have been weakened and undermined in the last eight years will be strengthened." Jeremy Corbyn.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Campaign groups launch a manifesto for a racism-free post-Brexit Britain

Campaign groups launch a manifesto for a racism-free post-Brexit Britain

Press release: Monday 22nd May 2017, For Immediate Release

Contact OBV press office: 
020 8983 5430 / 020 8983 5444 / 07584 177 529 / 07920 057 237

Campaign groups launch a manifesto for a racism-free post-Brexit Britain

A new coalition of 20 race equality campaign groups has launched a manifesto which includes a set of demands they want the next government to adopt.

The ‘Manifesto for Race Equality in Britain’ includes policy proposals to tackle racial inequalities in the jobs market, housing, and criminal justice.

Proposals include:

  • A comprehensive government-wide race equality strategy;
  • Brexit negotiations must be “race equality-proofed” to safeguard rights protecting citizens against discrimination;
  • A new law prohibiting online hate which forces social media firms to take action.


The online manifesto has just gone live: www.raceequality2017.org.uk

The website also features new analysis of the power of the black and ethnic minority (BME) vote in this snap general election.

The study found that:

  • Seven of the top ten swing seats have BME electorates significantly larger than the 2015 majority;
  • 45 of the top 50 swing seats, 45 have BME electorates larger than the 2015 majority;
  • 96 of the top 200 marginal seats have BME electorates large enough to make the difference.

The report concludes that Labour could seriously reduce the Conservatives majority by holding onto their share of BME voters. The Tories could seal a comprehensive victory by winning over more BME citizens, and the Lib Dems need to increase their appeal in diverse seats to have any hope of winning them back.

See the Power of the Black Vote 2017 report here: https://goo.gl/kAZMrA

The Race Equality 2017 coalition was coordinated by Operation Black Vote. The full list of organisations is in Notes to Editors.

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said:

“Britain is at a crossroads on Brexit, immigration, and British identity. How these issues play out in this snap election will determine the country's direction for a generation. The key question is to what extent will black and minority ethnic communities (BME) be involved in this debate?

“Persistent race inequalities in employment, education, housing and the criminal justice system has meant and lack of social mobility for BME children growing up to be adults is nothing short of a scandal. Many do succeed despite the barriers but too many fail to have their potential recognised much less fulfilled. That is why we are calling for a government-wide race equality strategy to root out racial inequality wherever it lurks in the system.

Dr Omar Khan, Director of the Runnymede Trust, said:

“Given the persistence and extent of racial inequalities we need the next government to have an actual plan to reduce racial inequalities, not just warm words. With post-Brexit Britain raising existential questions about who we are, we also need the next government to affirm that race equality is a core British value and that minorities won't see their rights and protections weakened”

Viv Ahmun, from Blaksox, said:

"Unemployment of 30% amongst 16-24 year old black people in comparison to just 13% amongst white people of the same age is a shocking disparity that feeds into and drives the poverty of opportunity that underpins rises in violence and mental ill health. The next government must do more to increase opportunities for employment and business development within BAME communities.” 

Zita Holbourne, National Chair, Black Activists Rising Against Cuts (BARAC) UK and National Vice President, Public and Commercial Services Union, said:

“Austerity combined with institutional racism is impacting disproportionately on BAME workers. Our manifesto seeks to address the adverse impacts of cuts on BAME workers from redundancies in the public sector having a double impact on BAME women to zero hour contracts meaning young BAME  workers have no job security, whilst addressing the structural systems of discrimination that already existed before cuts, in appraisal, promotion, progression and recruitment. Race Equality should be a right, not a privilege.”

Patrick Vernon OBE, trustee of Bernie Grant Trust and founder of 100 Great Black Britons, said:

“This is the 30th anniversary of Black History Month and the election of the late Bernie Grant, Diane Abbott, Paul Boateng and Keith Vaz as MPs. Tackling racial inequalities still have not been fully achieved. Our manifesto is a demand for our civil and economics rights to be taken seriously and delivered to all political parties.”

Lee Jasper, Blacksox sponsor, said:

“Black and Asian people in the UK today look with trepidation towards an uncertain future in a Brexit Britain. Racial inequality in the UK is now wider than any other time in our history. Hate crime is rising and black unemployment is at record levels. This no time abandon hope and refuse to vote. It’s time for UK Civil Rights movement.”

END.

Notes for editor: 
1)    OBV is non-partisan political campaigning organisation
2)    Organisations supporting the ‘Race Equality 2017’ manifesto include:
Runnymede Trust; Aspire Education Group; Coreplan; Ukren; BTEG; Friends, Families and Travellers; BSWN; Blacksox; Father 2 Father; DWC Global; Reallity; Voyage Youth; Race on the Agenda; Every Generation Media; BARAC; JUST Yorkshire; Society of Black Lawyers; Race Equality Foundation; Bernie Grant Trust.
3)    Power of the Black Vote report – showing that 45 of the top 50 most marginal seats have BME electorates larger than the 2015 majority – can be found here: https://goo.gl/6cPA91



Saturday, 13 May 2017

BARAC Chair, Zita Holbourne, elected Vice President of PCS Union



We at BARAC UK wish to congratulate the Co- Founder and  our National Chair, Zita Holbourne, on her successful election as  Vice President of the Public & Commercial Services (PCS) Union.
Our work has been furthered by the solidarity work we have done with the trade movement to challenge austerity and it's affects on  the Black community and workers.
Most of this work has been greatly advanced by Zita's tireless work and we are proud that her union members have also acknowledged her tireless work in defending their interests in electing her to serve as their Vice President. 

Donna Guthrie
BARAC UK National Women's Officer 

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Announcement from Lee Jasper: Standing down as co-chair of BARAC UK


Lee Jasper has now stood down as Co-Chair of BARAC UK and we thank him for his work since BARAC was founded in 2010.

After having the distinct honour of Co-Founding and Co-Chairing BARAC UK with my sister Zita Holbourne, I feel it time for me to stand down after seven years at the helm. 
I would like to pay tribute to the BARAC executive, whose work has been exemplary in seeking to demonstrate the links between austerity, the growth of racism, and the disproportionate impact on Black and Asian and ethnic minority communities. We have fought and won some amazing battles together and I am proud of our many achievements. 
It is then, with great sadness, I announce that I have stood down as Co-Chair. 
I am taking, a much-needed break, both on line in relation to social media and in real life. After 35 years on the front line of our struggle for equality I feel, it's now time to move on.
I am confident in BARAC's future with Zita remaining as Chair, and with the support of the national executive and ask that you continue to support, and work with BARAC, and I look forward to watching our continued success. 
In relation to the public advocacy, I am no longer able to do case work support, or representation on behalf of individuals.
I hope now to move on to undertake a PhD. 
For those seeking to contact me, the only means to do so, going forward is via email at lee-jasper@live.com  

Yours sincerely, 


Lee Jasper


Tuesday, 2 May 2017

We are fighting to eliminate bigotry, and racism from the workplace.
Too many black people suffer in silence and thier are professions who claim that their process of grievance and disciplinary investigations are not governed by UK equalities laws.
We must secure are equality in the courts. We must fund this action ourselves and this is our first self funded example.
We ask that you support is and help to raise much needed resources to support our own independant legal strategy designed to secure equality in the workplace.
Press Release.
BME Organisations in Historic challenge to Government attempt to undermine the Equality Act 2010 in the Supreme Court in the case of P v Metropolitan Police Commissioner
Several national African, Caribbean and Asian organisations have just filed a historic legal precedent in the Supreme Court to protect the rights of BME professionals such as police officers, doctors, dentists, nurses, midwives, solicitors, barristers, judges and magistrates. 
Over 100,000 BME professionals may be affected by the ruling.
In a historic case due to be heard before the Supreme Court on 4th May the Metropolitan Police are fighting to prevent an officer challenging her dismissal by claiming that police disciplinary tribunals are protected by Judicial immunity. Police Misconduct tribunals are chaired by a lawyer appointed according to judicial appointment criteria. 
A decision by the Supreme Court is expected in September.
“The Ministry of Justice are using the same argument to argue that the three Judges currently suing the MOJ for race, sex discrimination and victimization cannot bring their cases against the Judicial Conduct Investigations Office (JCIO) and that every decision taken by nominated Judges investigating misconduct is exempt from the Equality Act.
D Peter Herbert O.B.E., former Vice Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority, a Crown Court Recorder, and Immigration Judge, comments as Chair of Society of Black Lawyers,
“This Amicus Curiae brief is a historic legal application summarising the institutional racism faced by BME professionals in a range of professional organisations including the police, medical, and legal profession. The action by the Metropolitan Police Service, supported by the Ministry of Justice would seek to restrict the principle of equality before the law and access to justice, undermining the Lawrence Inquiry recommendations in the process. The Supreme Court has to carefully examine the wider socio-economic consequences of their ruling in the case of P.”
Ismet Rawat, President, of the Association of Muslim Lawyers said,
“If the Supreme Court decides to extend Judicial Immunity to disciplinary tribunals within the police force there is a reasonable likelihood that it will seriously undermine the ability of many BME professionals to challenge discrimination of all forms. 
This will be a retrograde step at a time of increasing racism generally, Islamophobia in particular and sexism in post-Brexit UK and the post-Trump world. It is somewhat ironic that the highest court of the land, which is now aware of the absence of diversity in the Judiciary must itself decide on a case that goes to the heart of who is truly able to enjoy equality before the law. BME organisations will be watching with interest.”
Lee Jasper, former Policing Director for London and former Equalities lead for the London Criminal Justice Board (2000-2008) said,
“This case marks the beginning of a post Brexit legal civil rights strategy that a number of national black organizations are actively considering one of whose important aims is to substantially reduce racism in the workplace. Black professionals are catching hell in the workplace and for some, the law as its currently understood by the courts, offers them little to no protection.
Black professionals are important and serve as role models for a black community suffering close to 50% youth unemployment. When our young people see that Black professionals suffer unfair race discrimination, they become disenchanted, angry and alienated from society.
If post Brexit anti discriminatory laws are now to determined here in the UK, then we say that our aim should be no less than to substantively reduce race discrimination in the workplace in a matter of years, not decades.
We find in our experience, that wherever 'discretion' is allowed in employment grievance and disciplinary processes, there you will find discrimination.
With Black graduate unemployment rising remorselessly now's the time to act. We want to establish the primacy of UK equalities legislation in all aspect of employment law, particularly the area of work place race complaints.”
Viv Ahmun of Blaksox stated,
“This is not some theoretical legal case restricted to so called BME professionals but will affect the aspirations and lives of all BME communities for generations to come. Our role models and professional leaders are crucially important to lift our whole community.
It is pointless for the Government to back the review into the disproportionate BME prison population being conducted by David Lammy M.P. on the one hand whilst with the other it seeks to remove equality for those that seek to break through the racial barriers within British society.”
Simon Wooley, the Director of Operation Black Vote commented,
“We must keep up the fight: This landmark case strikes at everything we care about; justice, equality and accountability. Any backsliding undermines all three, and in effect tells Black communities that we care little for your hard won civil rights. At a time when Parliament itself is failing to represent the diversity of BME communities and only 22% of race and religious discrimination cases are successful in the Employment Tribunal it is a disgrace that the Metropolitan Police and Justice Department are seeking to restrict that further by hiding behind Judicial immunity.”
For further information please contact: -
Info@societyofblacklawyers.co.uk; 
Info@blaksox.com;
D Peter Herbert O.B.E. : 07973 794 946
Viv Ahmun : Blaksox: 07985 395 166;
Ismet Rawat : 07852 146056

Sunday, 23 April 2017

Donate to BARAC refugee aid & solidarity






Since 2015 BARAC has been coordinating aid & solidarity convoys to refugees stuck in Northen France.

There's been a break in our regular distributions every few weeks, 1 of the reasons being the need to raise more funds to take essential items.

With your support we are ready to return shortly & we will be  taking food for the refugee kitchens.




The refugee camp in Dunkirk recently burned down which means people already displaced due to poverty, climate change, war & persecution, don't even have a place of temporary refuge so your support us much needed.

Please do what you can to support us, you can make donations via Go Fund Me: https://www.gofundme.com/BARACHumanitarian

Thanks for your ongoing support.