Blog Archive

Wednesday 31 January 2024

After the 25th Anniversary of the racist murder of Jay Abatan – the campaign going forward. Justice must be served!

 



Press Statement: Justice for Jay Campaign
 Immediate Release,  31st January 2024
 

After the 25th Anniversary of the racist murder of Jay Abatan – the campaign going forward. Justice must be served!
 


 

 Background

Jay Abatan, a black man of mixed Nigerian and British heritage, died on 29th January 1999, following an unprovoked attack by a gang of white men, in the early hours of the 24th of January in Morley Street, Brighton. He was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital with significant head injuries and never regained consciousness. He was placed on life support which was switched off five days later.

 

Twenty Fifth Anniversary events

 

29th of January 2024 was the 25th anniversary of the death of Jay and still no justice has been served despite the killers being known to the police. This, combined with a catalogue of failures by Sussex Police and failures in the judicial system, mean that twenty-five years on, nobody has been convicted for Jay’s murder.

 

New evidence that police officers that bungled the case holidayed abroad with suspects has come to light yet Sussex police have failed to act upon this.

 

To mark the 25th anniversary, a  well-attended vigil was held  outside Brighton Police station the day before, on Sunday 28th of January and a meeting in the Houses of Parliament took place on the anniversary, Monday 29th of January, launching a pamphlet about the campaign, attended by the Abatan family,  members of Parliament, representatives from BARAC UK, the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) and Brighton and Hove Stand Up to Racism,  who are part of the Justice 4 Jay Campaign, plus representatives from various campaign groups and journalists.

 

Sir Peter Bottomley MP chaired the meeting.

 

Other MPs in attendance included Bell Ribero-Addy, Claudia Webbe, Jeremy Corbyn, Kim Johnson, Richard Burgon and Annelise Dodd. Messages of solidarity were received from MPs who wished to attend but were unable to, due to other business and these included Caroline Lucas who has agreed to table an Early Day Motion, John McDonnell, Beth Winter, Barry Gardiner, Peter Kyle and Sam Tarry.

 

Speakers at the meeting included brother of Jay, who was also attacked at the same time as Jay, Michael Abatan, Zita Holbourne, Chair of BARAC UK and Hector Wesley, PCS NEC.

 

Over the 48 hours, the campaign garnered mainstream national, local and international news coverage.

 

Taking the campaign for justice forward

 

Going forward, Justice for Jay will be stepping up the campaign to ensure that justice is served.

 

There will be an Early Day Motion and a series of parliamentary questions tabled in parliament and MPs will be writing to Sussex Police.

 

There will be formal complaints lodged with the Independent Office for Police Conduct and the campaign will be pursuing a public inquiry and an investigative inquiry as well as legal action regarding the criminal aspects of the case which include the killing of Jay Abatan but also the physical assault on Michael Abatan.

 

The Alliance for Police Accountability are supporting the Justice for Jay campaign. A fundraiser has been launched, administered by BARAC UK, to raise money towards legal fees.

 

To support the campaign:

 

      Messages of solidarity and information relating to the case, can be sent to:

justiceforjayabatan@outlook.com and barac.info@gmail.com

      Join the Justice for Jay Facebook page   https://www.facebook.com/JusticeForJayAbatan

      Donate towards the legal fundraiser - https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/p/justice-for-jay-abatan

      Write to the Sussex Police and Crime Commissioner, calling for a new public inquiry into the killing of Jay Abatan - pcc@sussex-pcc.gov.uk

      Download the pamphlet in electronic form here; https://blackactivistsrisingagainstcuts.blogspot.com/2024/01/justice

-4-jay-25th-anniversary-event-in.html

      Write to your MP asking them to sign the EDM 349, tabled by Caroline Lucas MP on 1st February 2024

      Invite a speaker from the campaign to your trade union / organisation AGMs, branch meetings and conferences

 

Michael Abatan, brother of Jay Abatan, Justice for Jay campaign said:

 

 “The new witness coming forward shows that it is not too late to get justice for my brother.  I have been humbled by all the support I have received and thank everyone mentioned in this statement. It has been a long fight for the truth which is yet to come out. I will continue to keep a clear and open mind and let the evidence speak for itself. I urge anyone with any information to come forward and do the right thing. Injustice for one is injustice for all”

 

Zita Holbourne, National Chair BARAC UK, Justice for Jay Campaign said:

 

“Twenty-five years is too long for any family to have to dedicate lives fighting for justice, it is too long to wait to grieve. The Abatan family need and deserve answers, they need justice, and we need to see the killers and those who helped cover up their crime, punished. Justice must be served and we will be working as a community to support the family in ensuring that it is.” 

 

Ends

 

Contact: justiceforjayabatan@outlook.com or barac.info@gmail.com

 

#Justice4Jay  #JayAbatan #SussexPoliceAreNotInnocent





Sunday 21 January 2024

Justice 4 Jay 25th anniversary event in parliament, vigil and legal fund appeal

29th January 2024 marks the 25th anniversary of the murder of Jay Abatan by racists in murder, still nobody has been convicted for this murder and the Abatan family are continuing their quest for justice.

To mark the 25th anniversary a meeting in UK Parliament will be held at 6pm on Monday 29th of January  at Portcullis House - please use this entrance, not the entrance for the Houses of Parliament, Portcullis House is next to Westminster tube station.  The meeting will be hosted by Peter Bottomley MP.

Full details can be accessed via the facebook event page


A vigil will also be held outside Brighton Police Station at 2pm on Sunday 28th of January.


A new pamphlet about Jay Abatan and the campaign for justice can be accessed via the link below.


Justice for Jay 25th anniversary pamphlet





Racist Murder of Jay Abatan

Jay Abatan died on 29th January 1999.  He had been attacked in the early hours of the 24th January in Morley Street, Brighton.  He was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital with significant head injuries and never regained consciousness.  He was placed on life support which was switched off five days later.   

Initially a group of four men were identified and arrested for the attack on Jay and his brother Michael. Two men were subsequently charged with the manslaughter of Jay, actual bodily harm (ABH) on Michael and affray and they were released on bail. On the day the case was listed for commital, the Prosecution decided to drop the charges of manslaughter against one of the men despite the case having been prepared on a “joint enterprise” basis.  Officers claimed that Prosecution Counsel asked them what their “gut feeling” was about who was most likely to be responsible for causing Jay’s death and on that   they dropped the charges of manslaughter against one of the suspects.   As a result, the court refused to commit the one remaining suspect for the killing of Jay.  Two men subsequently stood trial for ABH and affray in relation to the assault on Michael and were acquitted.    The Judge ruled that the jury were not allowed to know what happened to Jay.   When Michael  gave evidence, he was not allowed to say that as he was being hit he had already seen that they had attacked his brother and he was lying injured on the ground.  As soon as they stopped kicking and punching Michael,  he went to his brother’s aid and began trying to resuscitate him rather than focusing on the men and where they had gone.  

Twenty five years on, nobody has been successfully prosecuted for Jay's death.    We are still no clearer about how many serving police officers were present with the group the night of the attack and in the aftermath.   

Background:

Jimmy Abayomi Abatan, known as Jay, was born in Lewisham in 1956 to Michael Abatan, an electrical engineer from Nigeria and Susan Abatan, a bilingual secretary from Kent.  

On Saturday 23rd January 1999, Jay, then  42 years old, a tax specialist with Price Waterhouse Coopers, went out for the night with his brother  Michael and a group of friends to celebrate a promotion at work.

After going to Ocean Rooms nightclub in Brighton, they went to the taxi rank on Grand Parade.

There he was subjected to an attack that he was unprepared for and as a result suffered life-ending injuries.     He was kicked and punched until he was unconscious on the floor with a fractured eye socket and fractured skull.   

He was taken by ambulance to the hospital and I went with him.   He never regained consciousness and was placed on life support.   He had a significant brain injury that resulted in his death on Friday 29th January 1999.  

Campaign for Justice

The Abatan family, led by Jay's brother Michael, have been fighting for justice ever since and strongly believe there has been a police cover up. This fundraiser is being administered by BARAC UK, on behalf of the Abatan  family and Justice 4 Jay campaign  to raise funds for a legal challenge. Twenty five years is too long for anyone to have to fight for justice.

Please support Justice 4 Jay by donating.






Sign the open letter by Justice 4 Windrush on the Windrush Compensation Scheme

Sign the open letter here




The fight for justice for the Windrush Generation continues. Justice for Windrush have launched an open letter and campaign video, calling for a just and accessible Windrush compensation scheme and we support this campaign fully.

 It will be eight years in 2024,  since I started campaigning against what became known as the Windrush Scandal and wrote about it  here in The Guardian - How Can 50 People be Snatched?

It's a disgrace that the Windrush Generation, families and our communities are still fighting for justice. When I wrote about it in 2016, it was not the start of the so called 'scandal', many victims had already been experiencing the horror of being detained, deported or barred from returning to the UK, for years or even decades by then. 

The Windrush Compensation Scheme was launched almost five years ago now, so you would expect that most people  would have received the compensation they are entitled to for the pain, loss and trauma they were put through.  Instead, the vast majority have received nothing  and in the few cases where the Home Office has made an offer, it has been woefully low and inadequate, to compensate the multiple injuries and losses experienced, meaning that people have had no choice but to appeal. A freedom of information request exposed that only 1% of people had received any compensation on appeal, in 2021.

We are supporting the open letter launched to start this year, by Justice 4 Windrush.  The letter exposes the many failures of the Windrush Compensation Scheme,  with only 13% of those eligible to receive compensation, receiving any funds, since the scheme was launched, to date. Many of those eligible, are elders and sadly too have passed, due to their age, without ever receiving any compensation. This is an abuse of human rights.

Alongside other demands, the letter calls for compensation for all eligible, to be paid swiftly, to stop deportations, as this petition calls for, for legal aid for those claiming compensation and crucially  it calls for an independent and neutral body to oversee the Windrush Compensation Scheme, removing it from the Home Office.

There are so many parallels with the Windrush Scandal and the Post Office Scandal. 91 year old disgusted with compensation delay and like Windrush, it has been heartbreaking to hear the stories of the Post Office victims. The human costs to both Windrush and Post Office scandal victims are horrific.  Our full solidarity goes to the Post Office scandal victims.

Please sign the open letter   and also watch the powerful  Official Campaign Film  which features survivors of the Windrush Scandal and their families alongside celebrities and public figures,  including Baroness Doreen Lawrence, actors, Adrian Lester and Eddie Marsan, TV presenter Jay Blades and musicians Don Letts and Leee John.

Please support this important campaign, Justice 4 Windrush have asked that you sign the letter,  watch the video, follow them on X and share with your networks.

 

Thank you for your ongoing support.


Zita Holbourne

Co-founder and National Chair BARAC UK






 

Sunday 5 November 2023

Liberty along with BARAC UK and others call for axrethink in the way police respond to mental health crises

Liberty, along with over thirty organisations and individuals  including Chair of BARAC UK,  Zita Holbourne, working on mental health, the criminal justice system, racial justice and civil liberties, has called for a rethink of the UK’s approach to responding to mental health crises.

               Artwork by Zita Holbourne 


The statement’s release coincides with the cut-off point at which the Metropolitan Police, under a new ‘right care right person’ policy, will stop responding to mental health calls unless there is seen to be a threat to life.

Signatories including the National Survivor User Network, INQUEST, and the United Families and Friends Campaign, as well as bereaved families of people who have died at the hands of the police or in mental health settings, welcome the news that police will have a reduced involvement in mental health calls. They note that police interactions can be extremely harmful and even deadly for a person experiencing mental health crisis, particularly people of colour.

At the same time, they say that current mental health provision is failing people, and that a new approach is needed which centers community care and tackles the root causes of mental ill-health and distress.

JOINT STATEMENT ON THE POLICING OF MENTAL HEALTH CRISES

From November, as announced by Sir Mark Rowley earlier this year, the Metropolitan police will stop responding to mental health calls except where there is seen to be a threat to life.

We believe that police intervention should not be the standard response to mental health crises. We are also aware that mental health services can be inadequate and often mirror the harms people face in police custody and following police contact. While we welcome a reduction in police involvement in mental health crises, we need an approach that genuinely prioritises peoples’ safety and wellbeing.

That can only come from investment in mental health support – including support that comes from community-based organisations – and for the government to tackle the root causes of mental ill-health and distress, which often stem from inequality and poverty.

The police, when responding to people in mental health crises, routinely criminalise, punish and dehumanise people, sometimes resulting in deaths. Over the last year, figures show that the majority of deaths in or following police custody or contact, involved mental health concerns. One tragic example is the case of Oladeji Omishore. Police tasered Omishore, a 41 year old Black man experiencing a mental health crisis in public, multiple times, after which he fell into the Thames and drowned. Omishore is not alone: the harm of police responses to mental health crises falls most acutely on Black people, who are more likely to be perceived as ‘dangerous’ when experiencing distress in public spaces.

However, it is also clear that the current model of mental health service provision for people experiencing mental distress is too often inadequate or violent, and can be just as fatal as police intervention. From 24-hour blanket surveillance to physical or chemical restraint, all too often the structures of mainstream mental health care mirror the violence and harms of policing – and these too tend to fall hardest on Black people. Instead of systems which often subject those in need of support to brutal treatment and cultures of abuse and neglect, we need to imagine and fund alternatives where there is genuine care and people have real choice about what their care looks like.

In the first instance, we need to create models of care that are based in communities and responsive to people’s needs. Crisis or Soteria houses are an example of community-based, ‘non-coercive’ crisis care. They aim to create a place of sanctuary grounded in the idea of standing alongside people and supporting their autonomy, instead of subjecting people to a system of care in which they have little voice or choice.

We also need to look at how we can prevent people from reaching crisis points in the first place. From housing to education, austerity in the UK has stripped away the support that allows people to live without constant stresses like poverty, inequality and deprivation. This has pushed more and more people towards crisis – and then the government has handed more powers to the police to clamp down on the consequences. This is a regressive and harmful approach which must be reversed.

In short, we call for a rolling-back of police powers so that no-one in crisis is harmed or killed by the police. We call for a rethink of the way in which we respond to people in crisis, and the proper funding of alternatives that centre care, choice and dignity. And we call for austerity cuts to be reversed and public services to be fully funded, so that people and communities have the resources they need to ensure that fewer people experience distress and crisis.

Signed,
Jen Beardsley, Interim CEO, National Survivor User Network (NSUN)
Deborah Coles, Director, INQUEST
Akiko Hart, Interim Director, Liberty
Marienna Pope-Weidemann, Justice for Gaia
United Families and Friends Campaign (UFFC)
Zita Holbourne, National Chair & Co-founder, BARAC UK
Katrina Ffrench, Director, UNJUST
Carla Ecola, Director, The Outside Project
Niamh Eastwood, Executive Director, Release
Selma Taha, Executive Director, Southall Black Sisters
Jess Southgate, Deputy Chief Executive, Agenda Alliance
Monty Moncrieff MBE, Chief Executive, London Friend
Gloria Morrison, Campaign Coordinator, JENGbA
Sally Zlotowitz, CEO, Art Against Knives
Liz Fekete, Director, Institute of Race Relations

Cassandra Harrison, CEO, Youth Access

Jay Stewart, CEO, Gendered Intelligence
Elodie Berland, Director, Streets Kitchen
Sonya Ruparel, Chief Executive, Women in Prison
Kevin Blowe, Campaigns Coordinator, Network for Police Monitoring (NETPOL)
Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs, Stonewall
Fair Trials
Estelle du Boulay, Director, Rights of Women
Pavan Dhaliwal, CEO, Revolving Doors
Dr Wanda Wyporska, Chief Executive, Black Equity Organisation
Laurence Jay, Interim Co-CEO, The Runnymede Trust
Quakers in Criminal Justice
Cradle Community
Diana Nammi, Executive Director, IKWRO – Women’s Rights Organisation
Janey Starling and Seyi Falodun-Liburd, Co-Directors, Level Up
Andrea Simon, Director, End Violence Against Women Coalition (EVAW)
Sara Kirkpatrick, CEO, Welsh Women’s Aid
Gisela Valle, Director, Latin American Women’s Rights Service
Sarah Hill, CEO, IDAS (Independent Domestic Abuse Services)

Andy Bell, CEO, Centre for Mental Health

 

(Reposted from Liberty)

Tuesday 31 October 2023

Two leading PCS union black activists resign from PCS Left Unity after being told 'We Don't Do Black for Blacks sake'

 Two of our highly respected BARAC representatives, National Officer and founding member of BARAC,  Hector Wesley and BARAC activist Tracey Hylton, who are also both well known, long standing, senior union representatives in the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) have today, the final day of Black History Month UK 2023, resigned from the PCS Left Unity grouping they were both members of.




BARAC UK colleagues were shocked and horrified to learn that in response to an expression of one black Left Unity member, expressing an interest in standing for election to a senior position, they were responded to by being told that 'we don't do black for black's sake'  and that this was supported by others. When white candidates put themselves forward they were not told, 'we don't do white for white's sake' so why was the colour of a black person  referred to as a reason not to support their potential candidature, disregarding their knowledge, experience, expertise and ability to do the job? 

Our full solidarity with  our Sister Tracey and Brother Hector,  we are united in struggle always. 

In the resignation statements from them below, they explain the reasons they have resigned and why they will not be re-standing for election to the PCS Union National Executive, a huge loss  to the union.


Hector Wesley


Why I have resigned from PCS Left Unity by Hector Wesley


After 28 years of membership – going back to when I joined NUCPS Broad Left in the 1990s - I have

resigned from PCS Left Unity. This is a decision that I have wrestled with for several months.

However truth be told the events that took place at a meeting of the Left Unity NEC Caucus on 17

May 2023 meant that at some point my departure from PCS Left Unity was inevitable. I will go into

more detail shortly about what transpired that day and subsequently.


I have made the firm decision in the last few days that I will not be voting for Fran Heathcote to be

PCS General Secretary (GS) or for Paul O’Connor to be PCS Assistant General Secretary (AGS). In

these circumstances I must leave the organisation. I do want to make clear that I have not sought or

been made any offers by either the Broad Left Network or the Independent Left, to encourage me to

make this decision. I will not be seeking to join either organisation.


I am currently in my 20th consecutive year as a member of the PCS National Executive Committee.

Earlier this month I advised PCS Left Unity that I did not intend seeking re-election at the end of my

current term of office. It is unlikely that I will change my mind about that.


PCS National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting held 17 May 2023


That morning, the PCS NEC met virtually as it usually does a few days prior to PCS Conference. Just

before the meeting broke for lunch, Mark Serwotka announced that he was retiring a year before

the end of his term of office. A few minutes after the NEC broke for lunch, I got a phone call from

Fran. She explained that she had known in advance about Mark’s intention to retire and that she

was intending to stand for PCS General Secretary on a joint ticket with Paul O’Connor for PCS

Assistant General Secretary. I thanked Fran for doing me the courtesy of telling me prior to the Left

Unity NEC Caucus meeting that was shortly about to start.


At the caucus meeting I said that I accepted that Fran was pretty much unassailable in terms of

securing the Left Unity nomination for PCS General Secretary. In respect of PCS Assistant General

Secretary I said that there should be further discussion as I thought that within Left Unity there are a

number of people who are more than capable of undertaking the role. I said that I would be taking

soundings about whether I should stand. I made no reference to my ethnicity when I spoke.


One other NEC member said that I should be considered. However it was clear to me that the vast

majority of those present at the caucus meeting were firm in their support of Paul O’Connor. One

NEC member – who I will not name - stated the following regarding the prospect of me standing for

PCS Assistant General Secretary:

“We don’t do black for black sake.”

I genuinely thought that the person who made this comment misspoke and hence I sought

clarification by posting a message in the caucus WhatsApp group. The person concerned replied

making clear that they didn’t misspeak. Their WhatsApp message was liked by 3 other NEC

members.


I knew then that my days as a member of Left Unity were numbered. While I did not say so until a

few days later, I had come to the view that I was not going to seek the Left Unity nomination for PCS

Assistant General Secretary.


As a longstanding activist I am used to dealing with hostile situations. However I did not expect such

a comment to be made towards me in a meeting like that. It is why it has really stuck with me. I

thought about the comment during the PCS Black Members Seminar which took place a few days

ago. I wonder if the PCS National Executive Committee really will be supportive of some of the

initiatives that were discussed at that meeting.


Left Unity National Committee meetings


On the evening of 17 May the Left Unity National Committee (LUNC) met to discuss the timetable for

the selection of the Left Unity candidates for PCS General Secretary and PCS Assistant General

Secretary. I was content that the process agreed at the meeting was fully consistent with the Left

Unity Rulebook.


In the following days, several LUNC members said they couldn’t stand by what was agreed as they

believed that the opposition were mobilising quickly to confirm their candidates. They thought that

candidates seeking the Left Unity nomination needed to declare by the close of PCS Annual Delegate

Conference.


The LUNC therefore met again on the evening of 22nd May in Brighton. I explained to fellow LUNC

members that up until this point no communication had been issued by Left Unity to its members

regarding the GS or AGS elections. I therefore could not agree with Left Unity members having less

than 4 days to submit nominations. I believed that members should have at least a week. I then said

that if we are going to accelerate the timetable then we will have to agree that candidates can self-

nominate rather than the usual practice of needing to secure the support of at least one Left Unity

Area.


While I was glad that the LUNC agreed with what I suggested, I was conscious that it was not fully in

accordance with the Left Unity Rulebook. I refer to this because several PCS Revenue & Customs

Group Executive Committee (GEC) Members, who resigned from Left Unity recently, told me that

the manner in which Left Unity selected its candidates for PCS General Secretary and PCS Assistant

General Secretary elections was one of the factors in their decision to resign. One GEC member told

me that they did not receive the bulk email issued to Left Unity inviting nominations. They were

therefore surprised when they saw the announcement on the Left Unity website on 30th May that

Fran and Paul had been selected unopposed.


I do regret not sticking with what the LUNC originally agreed on 17th of May.


TUC Black Workers Conference


The day after PCS Annual Delegate Conference 2023, I went to TUC Black Workers Conference as

part of the PCS delegation. Numerous delegates from other unions, approached me unsolicited that

weekend, to ask if I was standing for either PCS General Secretary or PCS Assistant General

Secretary. The reaction I got when I told them that I was not, was interesting. I was gratified that

several senior officials from other unions thought that I was capable of undertaking either role.


During the conference the Chair of the PCS National Black Members Committee asked me why I was

wearing my Arsenal top. I told him that being an Arsenal supporter over the years, I have learned

how to deal with frustration and disappointment and hence I thought it appropriate.


Unity

 

I am a member of Unity, which is an organised group within PCS Left Unity. I do need to express my

gratitude to them for the support they have given me. I appreciate the fact that they were prepared

to support me in standing for PCS Assistant General Secretary.


One of the reasons why I have wrestled with the decision to resign from PCS Left Unity, is that I am

conscious that my resignation will make Unity’s position within PCS Left Unity more difficult. It is

problematic if an increasing number of Unity members are not members of PCS Left Unity.


Candidates Hustings


I firmly believe that if you hold or are seeking high union office you have to be willing to debate your

opponents.


I do recall that circa 2006 when I attended the Bootle St Johns House Branch AGM as an NEC guest

speaker, fellow NEC member Jake Wilde was also there and I was asked to debate him regarding the

future of PCS. The chair of the branch was Paul O’Connor and he told me that members would find a

debate entertaining.


I had hoped that during the current General Secretary and Assistant General Secretary elections, I

would be similarly entertained. However it seems that I am going to be disappointed. I have seen an

email sent by Paul to the Chair of the PCS London & South East Regional Committee stating that

neither him nor Fran will take part in any further hustings. This has crystallised my intentions as to

who I will be voting for.


The PCS London & South East Regional Committee are trying to organise a virtual hustings meeting

next week immediately prior to the ballot opening. In order to maximise attendance the Committee

asked PCS HQ if an email could be sent to members in the Region including an Eventbrite link they

could use if they wanted to attend. PCS refused this request.


I do commend the TSSA Union. In their recent General Secretary election their union HQ organised a

hustings meeting for the candidates and they have uploaded a recording of the meeting to YouTube.


Conclusion

For me the Fran and Paul campaign have made too many missteps. The motion A50 issue could have

been handled far better. A simple acknowledgment that a mistake was made, would I think, have

dissipated much of the unhappiness. The statement they issued in response to the resignations from

Left Unity within Revenue & Customs was distinctly problematic. For one thing it did lead to further resignations.


I take no pleasure in saying this, but I do believe that Marion Lloyd and John Moloney have

campaigned better. Both in my view have expressed a greater willingness to subject themselves to

scrutiny.


I am comfortable in voting for John Moloney to be re-elected as PCS Assistant General Secretary. I

am aware that concerns have been expressed about the stance of the Alliance for Workers Liberty

on several international issues. However the PCS NEC have agreed for a number of years for John to

have the International portfolio.


I believe that John has done a good job in the last few years. The one minor criticism I will make is

that he has undersold some of the achievements that he has made. As an example he recently

secured a concession from the Cabinet Office relating to paid time off for safety reps that I was

previously told by PCS HQ was not possible.


My working relationship with John has been better than it has been with Paul and that is a factor in

my personal decision.


I do have my misgivings about Marion Lloyd and when she approached me seeking my support, I

told her what these are. She is a member of the Socialist Party and I am concerned that were she to

become General Secretary her party will have undue influence over how PCS is run. In response she

said that she thought that I have known her long enough not to be concerned about that.


I have known Marion for decades and while I have had disagreements with her, I believe that I can

take her at her word. Some may think I am naive for saying that and that’s fine.


Deciding to vote for Marion and not Fran has been difficult for me. Given the importance of these

elections, abstaining is not an option for me. On a personal level I quite like Fran and if she is elected

as General Secretary I will congratulate her and wish her well. I have decided to vote for Marion

because in my overall objective assessment I think that she is the better candidate.


The good thing about democracy is that my vote does not have any more weight than that of any

other PCS member. I hope that all PCS members participate of the upcoming elections.


Tracey Hylton


I have decided to resign from Left Unity with immediate effect. 

This is something I have been thinking about for quite a while.

 I have found In recent days, it has been on my mind increasingly more, and I have certainly not made this decision lightly.

I have been uncomfortable regarding the process or lack of real democracy in regards to members having a choice for AGS candidate since May.

 This and other factors, with a heavy heart , have led me to believe at this moment in time leaving is best.

I have just partly chaired the PCS National Black Members Seminar and delivered a Workshop on Passing the Baton. I made it clear that it is crucial to not just have the skills but to have political understanding , and good support networks as a Black Activist. 

Although we are a global majority, in the UK we are still a minority, and thus, we can be held back by numbers alone. Allies are also essential.

 I have seen other brilliant Black Trade Unionists leave in recent years, and I stand on the shoulders of giants. 

I will continue in my activism and my current Trade Union roles, delivering for members as I always have done. 

I was delighted to be re-elected as Vice Chair of the PCS National Black Members Committee last week, and I am fully committed to continuing and increasing my work in this role, and will remain available to offer support and mentoring  to anyone who asks. 

I have not quit. I have stood up. 

I will not be standing for re-election to the NEC next year. However, like many Black Actvists, I still have e many roles inside and out of the union. 

I have not been approached by or agreed to stand for positions on any other slate.

I stand with long time Comrade Hector and it is fitting to leave on the last day of Black History Month 2023.   

Black History Happens Every Day. 
Solidarity to all Black comrades. 
The struggle is real. 
Onwards!

Saturday 12 August 2023

SBL & other groups condemn criticism of THE TOP IMMIGRATION LAWYER JACQUELINE MCKENZIE

 



PRESS RELEASE            PRESS RELEASE                 PRESS RELEASE

SBL & other groups condemn criticism of THE TOP IMMIGRATION LAWYER JACQUELINE MCKENZIE.

 

To the Prime Minister:


The Society of Black Lawyers

The Society of Asian Lawyers

The Association of Muslim Lawyers

Operation Black Vote

Blak Sox 

Barac UK


We believe the Government’s inflammatory comments calling immigration lawyers “lefty lawyers" is inexcusable when these lawyers have a duty to protect and act in the best interests of their clients.


The Government rhetoric about “lefty lawyers” is increasing the risk of harm to those individuals. We find it abhorrent that a top Human Rights Lawyer Jacqueline McKenzie is now being labelled in the press as the lawyer who is “stopping the boats.”


It has been quoted that the Government sent out a dossier that contained many inaccuracies to the Daily Telegraph, the Daily Mail, the Sun and the Daily Express. The Immigration Minister, Robert Jenrick went as far as giving a radio interview where he repeatedly referred to advisers who were blocking the immigration process but bizarrely wouldn’t name the person, yet he told the presenter to read the article. This act can be described as 'adding fuel to the fire' as the Government has shown that they condone the contents of the article.



The Government has repeatedly behaved in an appalling manner, fanning hatred against minorities by repeatedly making statements by its ministers which just do that - fuel hatred. 



Why does the Conservative Government think it appropriate to target a woman who is reported to have taken security precautions since the articles were published after receiving “an ominous” email. This is appalling and shameful behaviour for a government that says it protects its citizens.


Ms McKenzie spends 90% of her time working on Windrush cases and has also sat on the independent advisory group with Sajid Javid regarding the Windrush Learned Lessons Review. So why the demonisation of Ms McKenzie? 



The reality is that this Government and its race baiting Home Secretary is presiding over a failed system with a backlog of 166,100 cases awaiting a first decision, with a success rate of 76% of cases due to international persecution. The vast majority of migrants are lawfully entitled to claim asylum under the Geneva Convention and have an 80% plus chance of being successful.  Over 50% of cases refused by the Home Office are allowed on appeal by Immigration Judges.



We welcome the Law Society and Bar Council’s statement in relation to this but more needs to be done to protect human rights lawyers that are abiding by the rule of law and are acting in the best interests of their clients. We stand with Jacqueline McKenzie and all the other lawyers that are lawfully helping those that are vulnerable and traumatised by Government policies that sometimes infringe on their human rights.



Peter Herbert O.B.E, Chair, Society of Black Lawyers states:


"As a former Immigration Judge the targeting of Jacqueline McKenzie is a libellous and dangerous attack on her professional integrity. The Rwandan deportation scheme has been declared unlawful by the Court of Appeal. Anyone who knows the Geneva Convention is aware this Government policy has nothing to do with "stopping the boats" but all about diversionary "culture war" rhetoric designed to avoid discussing a reduction in the huge Tory generated backlog in deciding asylum cases."


Frances Swaine, Solicitor states 


“The rule of law is crucial in a democracy, and fairness and equality are the basis for society. Where central government + media attack an individual lawyer for upholding the rule of law, this is dangerous for the individual, and for the rest of us.” 


Zita Holbourne, Chair of BARAC UK – Human Rights Campaigner states:


“Jacqueline McKenzie is a highly respected senior and experienced lawyer who has done important work in the quest for justice, representing vulnerable people facing the worse types of discrimination and human rights abuses. Her work on the Windrush Scandal is to be commended. This atrocious attack by the Government is irresponsible, putting Ms McKenzie at risk of danger and is racist in intent. All people are entitled to representation in the judicial system and this targeting of Ms McKenzie and other lawyers representing racialised people in human rights cases will not be tolerated."


Yours sincerely, 


Viv Ahmun Founder ( Blaksox)

Peter Herbert OBE (Barrister and retired judge)

Zita Holbourne Barac UK (Chair) 

Lee Jasper Chair (Alliance for Police Accountability)  

Attiq Malik (Society of Asian Lawyers) 

Frances Swaine Solicitor 

David Weaver Chair (Operation Black Vote)




ENDS

For further information please contact:

info@societyofblacklawyers.co.uk

info@blaksox.com



D Peter Herbert OBE – SBL 07973 794 946

Lee Jasper 07984181797