FREE EVENT: Racial Bias and the Bench - one year on, has progress been made?

Wednesday 1 November 2023

The event will assess whether progress has been made in meeting the challenges outlined by a ground-breaking report into racial bias in our legal system, one year after its publication. 

Read the report here: Racial Bias and the Bench: A response to the Judicial Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2020-2025)

Our Keir Monteith KC of the Garden Court Chambers Criminal Defence Team is on the panel. He is also a co-author of the report.

Share This Page

Email This Page

The event, which will take place on Tuesday 7 November at the British Academy, will see The University of Manchester’s award-winning writer Professor Gary Younge chair a panel discussion with guests including Abimbola Johnson from Doughty Street Chambers, Graham Ritchie from the Crown Prosecution Service; Katrina Ffrench from UNJUST, Haroon Siddique from the Guardian, and the authors of the report Professor Eithne Quinn from The University of Manchester and our Keir Monteith KC. This will be followed by a discussion with the audience and a drinks reception.

Last Autumn, Racial Bias and the Bench was published, a report in response to the Judicial Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (2020-2025), and raised urgent questions about racial attitudes and practices in the legal system in England and Wales.

The report drew on a survey of 373 legal professionals, in which 95% of those who responded said that racial bias plays some role in the processes or outcomes of the legal system, and 29% said it played a ‘fundamental role’. A majority of respondents had witnessed one or more judges acting in a racially biased way towards a defendant and in their decision-making.

While the report found evidence that some judges are already acting in ‘antiracist’ ways by being conscious of and knowledgeable about racism - and seeking to mitigate it - only a minority of respondents had ever seen a judge act in this way.

One year on, leading experts, practitioners and policymakers are coming together to assess what, if any, progress has been made in meeting the challenges outlined in the report, and to urge the profession to demand and drive forward change.

“Having met with academics and co-authors from The University of Manchester, I welcome their latest report which adds further evidence and provides feedback directly from members of the legal profession and judiciary,” said Shadow David Lammy MP at the time of the report’s publication. “Action to embed compulsory antiracist and racial bias training for all judicial office holders, which is a key recommendation of the report, would encourage a culture shift towards antiracist practice.”

Keir Monteith KC said today:

‘"Racial Bias and the Bench set out 10 clear recommendations to achieve meaningful change. Although the content of our report is shocking it has been universally well received. Those at the top need to start by publicly and sincerely acknowledging that Institutional Racism in the legal system exists. This toxic problem has to be addressed head on to ensure we have a fairer, more resilient and more democratically-accountable judiciary."

The event, organised by The University of Manchester, in partnership with Garden Court Chambers and the Centre on the Dynamics of Ethnicity, will take place from 6-8pm on Tuesday 7 November at 10-11 Carlton House Terrace, London SW1Y 5AH. It is free to attend or to watch online, but attendees must register beforehand on Eventbrite.

For more information, please contact

Related News

We are top ranked by independent legal directories and consistently win awards.

+ View more awards