I'LL TACKLE RACISM IN JUSTICE SYSTEM; Lord Advocate Admits Bigotry Problem

By Dow, Bob | Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland), June 16, 1999 | Go to article overview
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I'LL TACKLE RACISM IN JUSTICE SYSTEM; Lord Advocate Admits Bigotry Problem


Dow, Bob, Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)


SCOTLAND'S senior prosecutor yesterday admitted the justice system is blighted by racism.

In a speech that will send shockwaves through the legal establishment, Lord Advocate Lord Hardie said: "The assumption you have to make is that there is institutional racism.

"You carry on from that assumption and see how your practices can be improved."

Insisting he would take a hard line on bigotry, Lord Hardie added: "It would be ludicrous of me to say there is no racism in the system.

"There are prejudices under the surface in all parts of society, and we have to get to them."

His words failed to impress the family of murdered Sikh waiter Surjit Singh Chhokar, dubbed Scotland's Stephen Lawrence after accusations of official racism in his case.

The Crown Office will finally tell the Chhokars today whether two white men will be tried over Surjit's death.

Speaking at a conference on racist crime, Lord Hardie said Scotland's government will soon publish plans for reform in the wake of the bungled hunt for the killers of black teenager Stephen Lawrence in London.

He added: "I would like to emphasise my personal commitment, and the commitment of all prosecutors in Scotland, to ensuring racially-motivated crimes are prosecuted."

The Lord Advocate mapped out a training scheme to make prosecutors more aware of racial issues.

Supporters of the Chhokars claim they have faced the same prejudices as the Lawrence family.

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