Suella Braverman, the UK Home Secretary, is facing allegations that she utilized “racist sentiments and discriminatory narratives” while in government.
Nine legal organizations have filed complaints with the Bar Standards Board, the body that oversees criminal barristers in England and Wales, about her rhetoric about illegal immigration to the UK and child sex offense allegations leveled at members of the British Pakistani community.
Braverman is a qualified criminal barrister but has not practised law since becoming an MP in 2015.
She remains subject to certain professional standards, including an expectation that barristers “conduct themselves in an appropriate manner.”
In a letter to the Bar Standards Board, the nine organizations — including the Society of Asian Lawyers, the Association of Muslim Lawyers and the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants — accuse Braverman of racist language, specifically noting her suggestion earlier this year that many British Pakistani men “hold cultural values totally at odds with British values” in relation to allegations of widespread child sex offenses in some parts of the UK.
They also note her suggestion that 100 million asylum-seekers could enter the UK if tougher measures to reduce immigration and police the country’s borders are not imposed, adding that they would bring “heightened levels of criminality” and referring to people arriving on Britain’s south coast as an “invasion.”
The letter says Braverman has broken three specific standards that could erode trust in the profession, undermine the public’s perception of its integrity, and breach instructions on discrimination.
“It is crucial that members of the legal profession uphold the highest standards of integrity, impartiality, and professionalism. Ms Braverman’s comments are a clear violation of these standards and should not go unchallenged,” the letter states.
“These comments are not only highly inaccurate and offensive, but they also perpetuate harmful stereotypes and contribute to a climate of hate and prejudice.
“As a member of the legal profession, Ms Braverman should be held to a high standard of professionalism and ethical conduct. Her statements not only undermine the integrity of the legal profession, but they also have the potential to damage the reputation of the UK as a tolerant and inclusive society.”
The letter adds: “It is our view that Ms Braverman’s comments incite violence against the British Pakistani and Muslim community as well as refugee communities, fuelling racist sentiments and discriminatory narratives.”
The subject of child sex offenses committed by members of the British Pakistani community in the UK has generated significant political debate in recent months, with the letter’s signatories referring to a 2020 Home Office report that suggested there was insufficient evidence to assess the role played by British Pakistani men, but which added that the majority of sex offenders in the country were white.
Conservative MP and Home Office spokesman Rehman Chisti told The Observer: “As the home secretary has said, the vast majority of British Pakistanis are law-abiding, upstanding citizens, but independent reviews were unequivocal that, in towns like Rochdale, Rotherham and Telford, cultural sensitivities have meant thousands of young girls were abused under the noses of councils and police.”
The University of Oxford’s Migration Observatory says it is unaware of official statistics suggesting that migrants are disproportionately responsible for criminality in the UK.
“There is little evidence that migrants are any more or less likely to commit crimes than any other members of the population,” it said.