The lone female Afghan barrister practising in England and Wales was removed by a client as he wanted a white man to plead his case to make the judge “believe” him.
Rehana Popal, above, (Photo Credit: 10 King’s Bench Walk), who came to the UK as a child refugee and practises at 10 King’s Bench Walk in London, was not surprised when a solicitor called on Saturday to tell her the client does not want an Asian female but a white male barrister.
Popal says she has become numb to such racial behaviour. It is a reality ethnic minorities face at the Bar. She is concerned about how the justice system is being perceived since many clients believe their cases will be more credible to a judge only if it is presented by a white male barrister. This misconception has to be corrected urgently, according to her.
Popal said the ministry of justice should ensure that more and more women are recruited as barristers and solicitors to become judges later.
Responding to Popal’s incident, the Law Society said solicitors should refuse their clients’ instructions if they breach the code of conduct.
The Bar Council too urged solicitors to challenge clients who discriminate against barristers because of their gender or race.
Hours before Popal tweeted about her sacking, a law conference on ‘Levelling the playing field’ was hearing speeches highlighting “equal opportunity for women” at the Bar.