Investigation launched after black barrister mistaken for defendant three times in a day | Law | The Guardian

Source: Investigation launched after black barrister mistaken for defendant three times in a day | Law | The Guardian

Wilson, whose chambers are near the Old Bailey in the City of London, tweeted this week that she had gone to a court and was repeatedly misidentified as a defendant rather than as a lawyer. She is the author of In Black And White, which highlights the problem of racism in the courts.

Wilson said that she was “absolutely exhausted” after what had happened and that “a light needs to be shone on this”. Her tweets triggered fresh accusations about racism in the courts.

Wilson said she had initially been stopped at the entrance by a security guard and “asked me what my name was so he could ‘find [my] name on the list’ (the list of defendants)”. She thought that might have been an “innocent mistake”.

Then a member of the public, who thought she was a journalist, told her not to go into a courtroom and to wait for the usher to sign her in for her case. She had to explain that she was the barrister.

Inside the courtroom, a barrister or solicitor told her to wait outside and see the usher. Wilson explained that she was a lawyer.

She then approached the prosecutor. Wilson added: “Before I got there the clerk, VERY loudly, told me to leave the courtroom and said the usher would be out shortly. Before I could respond she then asked if I was represented.”

For at least the third time, she had to declare that she was a defense barrister. “This really isn’t ok …” she tweeted. “I don’t expect to have to constantly justify my existence at work.”