By Daniel Bates
‘Racist judges forced me out,’ claims black magistrate
Racist judges tried to force out a black magistrate after she claimed they treated black defendants unfairly, a tribunal heard today.
Iris Josiah was bullied and victimised by senior white magistrates after raising concerns about a culture of racism towards blacks.
She said black defendants were being found guilty even if they were innocent, were jailed for longer and were more likely to be sent to prison and refused bail.
Judges overlooked her in favour of white colleagues for promotion and unlawfully suspended over a seven and a half year period, the tribunal was told.
She claims this amounted to ‘systemic unfair treatment’ and a plot to expel her from the magistracy on account of her colour.
Miss Josiah, 50, is claiming harassment, victimisation and racial discrimination against the Ministry of Justice and is demanding £75,000 compensation.
She said within the first few years of her appointment as a judge at Enfield magistrates in north London she witnessed racism.
She said: ‘I witnessed the hostile treatment of black defendants by some fellow magistrates (harsh remarks, severe sentencing, disregard for personal mitigation, easy findings of guilty irrespective of evidence, most likely to be refused bail, most likely to be sent to prison, general unfair practices) and have confronted a couple of magistrates about particular incidents of a couple of unfair practices relating to black defendants including unfair practices directed at me – for example leaving me out of discussions during deliberation.
‘I felt this needed to be discussed and resolved with the magistrates since I did not want to participate in a culture of unfair practices against black defendants.’
After she made the complaint Miss Josiah was barred from remand court where the alleged incident happened and began to be treated with what she claimed was the “utmost disrespect” which left her humiliated and ineffective.
She repeatedly attempted to progress to the position of court chairman but claimed her attempts to be appraised by court managers were postponed to thwart her.
This compared to three white colleagues who were all easily given appraisals and went on to take up the position.
She also had to deal with complaints from bosses which she told the tribunal were there for a similar purpose.
One was from Clive Amos and Stephen Carroll two magistrates at the Enfield court and Robin Wright one of the court’s legal advisors that she had made an inappropriate remark during a trial.
Miss Josiah said it was ‘manufactured’ and that ‘the intention was to stop me from becoming a court chairman and to have me expelled from the magistracy on grounds of my race’.
‘This complaint was part of the systemic and direct racial discrimination that was practised against me at Enfield Magistrates Court,’ she said.
In February 2007 she made a formal complaint of racial discrimination to the North West London Advisory Committee which investigates disciplinary matters in magistrates courts.
The next month she was told by Mr Carroll she was not beyond the rota and was effectively suspended until her disciplinary matter was resolved.
She was horrified to find out that it would be Mr Carroll and Mr Amos who would be investigating her complaint – the very people she was complaining about.
Miss Josiah, who supplements her voluntary work as a magistrate by lecturing at a college told Stratford Employment Tribunal: ‘I am now in my 15th year and still there is not a black court chairman or black mentor on the Tuesday bench and there is not a black female chair or black mentor within Enfield Magistrates Court.
‘Every attempt I have made to become a court chairman and a mentor has been blocked.
‘The cumulus effect of the systemic unfair manner in which I have been treated has been extremely painful and humiliating.