QC denies ‘racial culture’ in chambers

A senior barrister accused of racially discriminating against an Asian colleague has denied a “racial culture” existed within his chambers.

Aisha Bijlani, an Indian-born barrister at the Four New Square set, is suing three consecutive heads of the chambers and its senior clerk for £33m. She alleges she was discriminated against by John Powell QC, Justin Fenwick QC, Roger Stewart QC and senior clerk Lizzy Wiseman. Stewart told the Central London employment tribunal today that chambers staff had received equal opportunities training. “I myself attended such training,” he said. “I do not believe that there was any racial culture within chambers.”

But Bijlani claims that white colleagues who joined the chambers at the same time as her in 1994 earned an estimated £7m more than she did. She said she never had the opportunity to reach her full potential at the chambers because of racist attitudes, that she was repeatedly overlooked for work, and that fees for work she had done were not properly collected.

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