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Wife of 25 Bedford Row barrister reveals husband’s battles with racism in viral Facebook post

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‘People often assume that he is the defendant’, writes Katie Lynch

Leon-Nathan Lynch

The wife of a criminal barrister at 25 Bedford Row has revealed her husband’s battles with racism in a viral Facebook post.

The post, which has been reshared 33,000 times and has amassed over 25,000 likes, follows on from the death of African-American George Floyd in US police custody, which has sparked anti-racism protests across the globe.

According to the post, barrister Leon-Nathan Lynch has been stopped and searched seven times and unlawfully arrested once. Recalling an incident that left the barrister “utterly humiliated” after being wrongly handcuffed and arrested by police, wife Katie Lynch wrote:

“He was on his way to see me, in his bag he had a personalized plaque made for me for valentine’s day with a hammer and nails to put it up for me. He was stopped by the police on the grounds that they believed he had a firearm, it was raining and cold, they twisted his arms and put him in handcuffs and pushed his face into a park railings. For 30 mins he stood there whilst an armed officer pointed a gun at him. His nose was running because of the cold and despite his requests, they wouldn’t even let him wipe the snot running down his face.”

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After failing to find a firearm, the police are said to have changed the reason for his arrest to suspected robbery, as he “fitted the description”. Although Leon-Nathan was eventually released from the police station, he received no apology.

She provided another example of a stop and search during which “police officers allowed their dog to put his dirty paws all over his suit”, meaning Leon-Nathan arrived at work late and covered in dog paw marks.

“Every single time he has been stopped and searched (sometimes in his suit and tie on his way to work) he has been singled out and people walk pass him believing he is a criminal. Can you imagine the embarrassment?” she wrote.

The post also describes Leon-Nathan’s “long and gruelling” 12-year journey to tenancy. “He was rejected from many jobs and pupillage opportunities and watched as white counterparts with less experience and skill were offered those very same jobs,” she wrote.

Now specialising in serious crime and white-collar defence, Leon-Nathan still experiences racism on the job. “People often assume that he is the defendant (despite being in a suit) purely because he is a young black man and this mistake is even made by counsel,” she explained.

Commenting on the George Floyd protests, which has seen law firms and chambers reaffirm their commitment to championing diversity and challenging racism, Katie continues:

“I hear some of you say this is America’s fight not ours. I beg to differ, we struggle with racism in the UK too, structural racism is ingrained in our society and we have become so used to it we don’t even recognise it is there, we’ve just accepted it as the way things are. But do you know who is aware of it every single day, our black brothers and sisters.”

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68 Comments

Thirsty

All things aside, that man is FINE

(86)(16)

MissBehaving

FINE as in ALIVE and BREATHING… is that what we are setting as the goal for how black people should be treated? If this is how a black barrister in a suit on their way to or from work is treated, try and imagine the fate of others, whether here or in the US. Say someone not a BARRISTER. Are you sure they have the same fate? Say the charges don’t get dropped? Say they come from a single-parent working class household with little money and then get a criminal record? Some may even be forced into a life of crime with no real support or alternatives available to them. Some may not have a loving partner at home to hold them whilst they cry after something like this. Some may have PTSD. May result in mental health issues. Even making someone late for work all dirty – with an ignorant boss, they could lose their job. If this is the kind of systemic racism prevalent in the system then how does that affect the number of resulting hate crimes? THINK as well as drink, Thirsty. Please.

(18)(27)

RTFQ

Fine as in good looking. Moron.

(64)(4)

Missbehaving

oh my god. I am seeing so many racists post the last few days I had my perv cap off. I am so sorry! Also relieved.

(40)(5)

London Counsel

I know Leon and he is a man of great integrity and a brilliant lawyer. It’s heartbreaking to read his wife’s post.

(83)(9)

Sorry - your experiences sound horrible

And yet another BAME reporting that they waited years for pupillage and other opportunities, whilst a White person with less legal experience and worse academics was chosen instead.

Not forgetting chambers in London that have only 1 or 2 BAME members in the whole set and have been silent on recent events. My yoga studio managed to send and e-mail promising a new diversity committee, whilst collectives of the ‘best and brightest’ barristers do absolutely nothing.

There’s really no point in the Bar pretending that it isn’t a racist profession.

(80)(75)

Anonymous

Your complaint is that chambers aren’t wasting their time pandering to your feelings with pointless virtue-signalling?

There’s probably a reason for that…

(34)(30)

Anon

You’re right, there is a reason – systemic racism.

(47)(43)

Preparing for backlash

Two things are true – 1. It’s tragic that he has had these experiences. 2. Your comment is just silly.

‘White person with less legal experience and worse academics’ – cursory check of 25BR website states he comes from a non-traditional background and went to University of Kent.

I’m going to suggest that anyone from a non-traditional background has an uphill battle to get through at the bar – I don’t meet many other working class white boys.

The fact is working class (or non-trad background) folk have it a little harder, especially when they have a non RG/Oxbridge education.

We can have a conversation about how people from the black community are more likely to live in lower income households and THAT is a significant problem.

Racialising these issues does absolutely nothing to fix them – supporting more young people from any low income home into decent higher education should be the main driver; it follows that black kids will benefit.

The simple fact is that poor people struggle to get an RG/Oxbridge education for a whole host of reasons (internal and external to their own communities) – this is a societal problem that the Bar can’t magically fix with more ‘diversity committees’.

(80)(9)

No, You Aren’t A Victim

WTF exactly is a ‘working class’ person these days???

Do you mean someone who went to a state school? Someone whose parents never went to uni, like Prince Charles? Someone who earns under £25k, like a piano teacher living with their accountant/solicitor parents?

Genuinely would love to know.

(4)(35)

mike

Wannbe victim living in one of the most advanced countries in the world, with the history of mankind’s collective wisdom and learning at the touch of a keyboard, competes with another to ensure that the cloak of victimhood is preserved for the truly deserving.

(10)(22)

Preparing for backlash

You’re right of course, and this inability to define the problem is part of the problem.

‘Non-traditional background’ is probably more useful than ‘working class’.

Think of it like this – young male from a council estate with a household income below national average. Neither parent university educated and also in low skilled/no employment. If we have to draw a line, household income below £25k will probably work.

That child, regardless of ability, lacks role models and there is little aspiration to go around.

This lack of aspiration is coupled with parents who don’t necessarily value education and see school as some sort of day care.

My wife is a secondary teacher and has had a parent scream at her, “why are you sending this work home? I have no time for this, it’s your job to teach him”.

Obviously not all parents are as ignorant and some just lack the time or ability to help educate their children – but the result is the same.

Working class, non-traditional, call them whatever you want; children from certain backgrounds are significantly more likely to lack educational and emotional support through life.

That kid can be black or white and the result is the same – it’s a false start in life and its pretty difficult to overcome when they hit 17/18 and decide they want more.

The best they can do is try and get into any Uni that’ll take them and work hard to make up for lost time.

A white lad from a council estate has more in common with a black lad from a council estate than a white lad from the Home Counties with parents who foster academic development.

The point here is that the whole diversity agenda doesn’t solve the problem. We have vast swathes of our society who have the misfortune to be raised in toxic environments – and solving that is much more complex than setting diversity quotas.

(In reference to your name – no, I am certainly not a victim. Any barriers I had to overcome were entirely self-imposed and I’m not terribly bright.)

(52)(4)

Council estate

“Think of it like this – young male from a council estate with a household income below national average. Neither parent university educated and also in low skilled/no employment. If we have to draw a line, household income below £25k will probably work.

“That child, regardless of ability, lacks role models and there is little aspiration to go around.”

Plenty of good role models amongst the poor and council housed. My parent (yes, singular) was a great example. I’m not a QC or High Court judge but I did bag a decent London pupillage this year despite corona.

Your patronising crap about their being no one with aspirations or good role models on a council estate is part of the problem. We don’t need your prejudice.

And just in case anyone thought your bigotry was an accidental blunder, here is you saying it again:

“A white lad from a council estate has more in common with a black lad from a council estate than a white lad from the Home Counties with parents who foster academic development.”

Plenty of good parents on council estates. They might not have the money to send their kids to private school, pay the bills while they do unpaid internships and send them to the US to work with death row convicts but plenty of them still do what they can with limited resources.

Preparing for backlash

I am also from a council estate. I fear your anger is misdirected – this isn’t prejudice, it’s just my experience.

I’m not suggesting there aren’t good parents on council estates, there are. However in my experience, they aren’t in the majority.

Of 10 close friends I grew up with, of which I certainly wasn’t the smartest – 2 killed themselves, 2 are in jail, 1 died in Afghanistan, 3 had 3+ kids before 23 and live in the same place – my contention is that the odds just aren’t as good for those from my background.

I’m in crime – so from legal cheek it’s unlikely we’d consider my pupillage ‘good’ unfortunately.

If you’ve had a different experience then that’s incredible and fills me with optimism.

Optimistic

Thank you “Preparing for backlash” and “Steven” for your thoughtful comments, backed up my sources. Seriously.

Being mixed race myself some of the points made really resonated with me. I think it is so important that black/mixed race candidates look to their communities not as a badge of shame or vulnerability, but a symbol of strength and courage. The latter requires leadership. That means we must look inwards and demand more of ourselves and our communities. I desperately want to see more positive Black role models. It is an internal and external thing. Until we accept that without demonising, it is impossible to move forward.

Truth be told, I’d begun to despair with the state of the comment section on the Freshfields article. But reading your sensible yet humanising comments brought me great optimism! Society hasn’t devolved into total tribalism, at least not yet. In the end we should want equality of opportunity, exactly as you’ve said. Not tokenistic diversity for the sake of diversity.

(15)(2)

Steven

I’m not sure the point of this article.

Where is the ‘structural racism’. What are the laws that require changing to prevent discrimination? This is wokism at its finest. No facts, statistics or analysis….. rather a personal story, completely unverifiable, followed by a sweeping statement that racism exists everywhere.

12.5m Americans think lizard people rule the world. There are idiots in every country and most likely a small (and diminishing) number of racists. But to suggest that structural racisim continues to exists does a disservice to the Civil Rights Movement. There is no legally enforced segregation or laws discriminating against people based upon their ethnicity.

This is a vanity post by his wife and places additional clouds in the minds of young BAME children peddling the misconception that any/all failure is as a consequence of ‘structural racisim’

(31)(36)

'BAME' is a lazy generalisation

2019 BSB diversity report is a good read – the only vast underrepresentation I can see is at QC, which will naturally take longer to correct.

Perhaps feeling outraged makes some people feel better.

https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/uploads/assets/912f7278-48fc-46df-893503eb729598b8/Diversity-at-the-Bar-2019.pdf

(9)(3)

We Still Have A Race Issue

Most BAME barristers are on £12K criminal pupillages, not at London commercial sets earning ££££££££££.

(22)(3)

Stop saying BAME

Show me the stats then. BAME is such a disgusting way to categorise human beings.

There are significant differences between Black Caribbean, Black African, Indian, Pakistani, Chinese communities – stop being lazy and identify actual issues.

(19)(6)

MissBehaving

Looking at some of the comments I am extremely disappointed to realise I appear to be joining a racist profession. I hope this is not reflective.

(35)(28)

Steven

I’m sorry you are feeling upset. Please identify the comments above that you consider to be ‘racist’ or which show the bar to be a ‘racist profession.’ Your rhetoric is deeply damaging to the profession.

As a barrister and pupillage supervisor, I suspect it will be your future chambers who will be disappointed to learn that you appear to be triggered by opinions (backed up by statistics) that you do not agree with.

(17)(18)

MissBehaving

I am sorry you are ignorant. I have no doubts that it is damaging to the profession. This may be one story, but it is reflective of the lives of the black community. This is about racism so I am not sure why you are banging on about copied and pasted figures of BAME in the profession as though that justifies this man’s experiences of being a victim of racial prejudice in any way? If you are interested in facts alone please educate yourself. I saw you ask where the structural racism is. Read statistics e.g. black people are 2-3 times more likely to die in police custody than white people in the UK. The 13th is a great documentary but more US focused. ‘Natives’ and ‘Why I am no longer talking to white people about race’ are other good books that are more relevant to the British experience.

(26)(23)

Steven

I’m sorry you feel that I am ignorant. I can assure you that I have tried to keep an open mind to complicated problems which continue to trouble society.

Your choice of literature provides zero assistance to reveal the ills affecting parts of the BAME community. You are relying upon personal experiences; this is an approach to social science which ought to be discouraged.

For example, based upon the personal experience of poor Mr Floyd, BLM have seized upon this an example of structual racism and will use this as an opportunity to withdraw funding to the police due to structural racism. This is misconceived.

If BLM, and the wider community had had the same sense of outrage with the killing of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in 2015, different conclusions might have been drawn. At the time, Baltimore had the leading murder rate in the USA. At the time, POTUS, the chief of police, deputy chief of police, state attorney, majority of the city council, three of six officers and the Judge were all african amercian. Minnosta is no more ‘structurally racist’ than Baltimore; this is being seized upon for political reasons to futher persons’ political objectives.

(27)(15)

MissBehaving

Sorry – tried to respond before but I put it somewhere random.
In response to this: In particular, the telling statistic that children growing up in households missing a father are 5 times as likely to be poor, 5 times as likely to go to commit a crime, 9 times more likely to drop out of school and 20 times more likely to go to prison.

I am struggling to understand how and why you are not asking yourself why their fathers are absent or seeing the vicious cycle at play or thinking about social mobility. You yourself are practically explaining systemic racism to me. It is more likely to happen when BAME communities often work lower-paid jobs, often have less opportunities and are criminalised before they are even criminals. You could imagine how being treated like criminal impacts people negatively. More stop and searches for BAME –> proportionately, more BAME people charged with crimes than white people. That’s not to say there aren’t wider working class issues relevant to white people too. They may lack financial privilege but retain white privilege. Covid-19 is disproportionately affecting BAME communities too. On this:
https://slate.com/technology/2020/06/protests-coronavirus-pandemic-public-health-racism.html?fbclid=IwAR2RpWZBjw5Tb8Cnw1GF3Nto9LiXPCgZY5KdMDDoEpulu4Qnvh7od1-5fOE

You seem very reluctant to engage in anyone’s personal experiences. I get why, but people’s experiences are telling. BAME communities ARE and HAVE BEEN trying to share the ills affecting them. Now people of all colour are trying to bring them to yours and others attention too. This is about people, after all, and the collective experience is what has become starkly clear for many in recent weeks. Akala does touch on his personal experiences but I hope it doesn’t discourage you – he is EXTREMELY well educated and well researched and I’d say the bulk is historical fact. I am sure there are also heaps of other resources being shared at this time if it is not up your street!

Steven

@ MissBehaving.

No need to apologise. I saw you comment above and did my best to (rush) a response 🙂

Racism Is So Unsexy

Go big brave boy, put your name and chambers out there and stand up as a hero for protecting the commercial bar from idiots who don’t have an ‘Outstanding’ on the BPTC

(23)(27)

Steven

As I have said elsewhere, I didn’t achieve my (pretty modest) myself by inviting the stasi into my home and/or workplace to allow them to detroy my livilhood and ability to earn a living to support my family.

With the greatest respect, from the content of your rebuttal, you wouldnt last ery long in my world in a debate (without you equally illliberal fans on twitter to help you out).

(19)(4)

Go And Convince Your Non White Clients

With the greatest respect, I am absolutely delighted not to work with a racist like you who sincerely thinks the BPTC, Year 6 SATS and the 5m swimming badge are what aptitude for the Bar should be based upon, and therefore minorities don’t cut the mustard.

I’d love to hear you argue about the vital importance of the BPTC and how minorities don’t perform as well to all the millionaire clients who instruct you from Saudi, India, Nigeria, Hong Kong, UAE, Qatar and Turkey – the ones that help you to pay your mortgage. Really, I would.

Steven

I’m not sure where any of my posts would be considered ‘racist’. I suspect you don’t know the meaning of the words.

If your ideological brethren are going to throw around comments like the Bar is inherently racist (see posts at the top), then I would expect to see evidence for such a bold assertion.

I have simply reposted an interesting post which has looked at the statistical evidence on BPTC admissions. I don’t think I have made any direct comments in respect of the BPTC. I wouldn’t do as I haven’t personally looked at the statistics.

I have then suggested that there are other factors, predominantly focusing on the Afro Caribbean culture, which may be of greater assistance to explain disadvantages that they my face than ‘racism’. I have posted comments from Obama, NCAAP, independent statistics which can be reviewed, comments from prominent civil rights activists and articles from African American commentators. This is not racist, not even close.

What a shame

After seeing the sorts of comments in the Freshfields article I just knew it would happen again here.

(8)(0)

Anonymous

There will certainly be an element of this (two surgeons will likely have smart children), however it’s an oversimplification.

The very brightest I’ve met in this profession have almost all been oxbridge graduates; however, not one was privately educated. My experience is that the state school people who make it to the top universities are gifted – few ‘above average’ state school kids get to oxbridge.

Private schooling (and very proactive parenting) can push a merely ‘above average’ child into the top A-Level grades. These levels of attainment are more representative of the system than the natural ability of the child.

Top this off with confidence and polish imbued by the school and hey presto – you have a kid with an IQ of 120-130 who thinks poor people are stupider than him because he has a refined accent.

Obviously, my anecdotes aren’t data but I’ve met many many privately educated oxbridge graduates who are deeply unimpressive and I’m yet to meet a state schooled oxbridge grad lacking in the brains department.

(20)(17)

Anonymous

I was saddened to read this post, and more saddened that the profession (see, for example, the CBA’s Monday Message) has jumped on the bandwagon as though everything it states is inexorable truth. It isn’t in my experience at the Bar.

So much of the post cites examples that apply to many people, and are nothing to do with racism.

For example, I too come from a non-traditional background to the Bar. I am a white, working class male. I was the first in my family to attend at university. My route to pupillage and tenancy was equally arduous. It took me five years to get pupillage, with much voluntary and low-paid work to improve my experience. That is not uncommon for many applicants, black or white.

I studied in London at the height of the terror threat. I was also stop and searched on at least three occasions under the blanket terrorism powers. On another occasion, I was randomly searched at a tube station during an operation searching for knives. In fact, I had a small utility penknife with me. I let the police know I had it, and it wasn’t remotely a problem that I did. Sometimes you are just stopped and searched. You might match a description of someone wanted and it might be embarrassing to be stopped, but it is an experience that can, and does, affect anyone irrespective of their skin colour.

I too have represented racist individuals, some white and some black. Just as Leon, I represent everyone to the best of my ability. That is the way of the Bar.

I am not for the moment saying the Bar is perfect; it isn’t. I have seen sexism, by both males and females, and elements of the Bar remain riddled with classism. I have not, myself, ever seen racism by a member of the Bar. That does not mean it isn’t there, but there are plenty of other issues ahead of racism at the Bar.

We would all do well do remember that lawyers work with evidence. Many of the examples cited by Leon’s wife are not, I am afraid, good evidence of racism. And we should all be careful about how readily we throw around the charge of racism, for it merely dilutes the truly vile nature of racism.

(18)(12)

Systems can’t be racist

You’re touching the root of the problem.

Well meaning people are training entire generations of young black people to see themselves as victims and in absence of any overt racism it must be inferred from ‘evidence’ that either doesn’t exist or is not in context.

Racism is an evil and it exists in a great many individuals – but systems can’t be racist, ‘structural racism’ cannot exist.

Outcomes and opportunities may not be evenly distributed, but nothing suggests that the system is engineered to ensure black people bear the brunt of this inequality.

(12)(14)

Steven

Of course they can.

If the culture, rules and common practicesof an organisation are such that they are designed to cause discrimination then, of course, it is structurally racist.

(14)(12)

Oh dear

Blaming ‘hip hop’ culture and absent fathers for the lack of Black people at the bar??? Really???

The biggest Kanye West fan I know is a (White) commercial barrister. And I think it was good ol’ Joloyolonyolon who bragged about making QC as the child of a single parent.

Absolutely staggering the frivolous reasons barristers will come up with to justify calling minorities stupid.

(16)(25)

Steven

@ oh dear.

I’m not sure I made a direct link between “the lack of Black people at the Bar” with “hop hop’ culture and/or absent fathers. Feel free to quote me though if this is wrong. My point was broader; in particular, responding to the damaging suggesting that underepresentation was due to structual racism.

In response to my quotes from Obama, statistical evidence about absenteeism and a nice little quote from the NCAAP, you simply sake two ancedotal examples and then draw a conclusion that these a frivolous reasons. Are you really saying because you know that two barristers (one being certifably white) who like hip hop, then it must be ok? Seems a little thin……

Here is a nice article to amplify the argument: https://www.city-journal.org/html/how-hip-hop-holds-blacks-back-12442.html Needless to say John H. McWhorter is black (if, somehow (which is denied), this makes it more authentic criticism)

(11)(1)

I think your pants are on fire

If you’re really a commercial barrister based in London, the vast majority of your clients will be multinationals or business owners who are not White.

Most likely, your billings and thus your mortgage will be paid by firms who are owned or managed by millionaires from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Nigeria, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar or other major multinational business centres.

Have you dutiful told any of these people that they are underachievers who would never make it at the Bar?

(9)(7)

Steven

That is correct. They are non-white. Usually, they are long standing clients who have instructed me for many years. I’m not sure how that is relevant though. I can only assume that you have not read my posts properly. You havent quoted anything back to me or even attempted to make an argument.

(9)(2)

Syd

Steven isn’t really at the commercial bar. He’s at a provincial set, doing common law work. Which explains his narcissistic need to dominate the commentary. Get a life, Steven. And get prepping for your appearance before the district judge tomorrow.

Amelia Y

The Legal Cheek comment section never fails to astonish me with the people implying that minority-ethnic students are less deserving of a training contract or a pupillage.

It was in the Freshfields’ post, and now the exact same people have come back typing furiously away to make generic and ignorant statements. Statements they would never dare voice in public, and the only reason why these clowns would make such chauvinistic comments, is because they feel threatened.

But you know what, just keep doing what you’re doing.

The more you post such posts, the more people will be aware of UK’s need to battle against racism. You are not “educating” anyone with your ignorant statements, you are only proving to people how far we have left to go. The world will move faster than you, and hopefully, one day you will learn to alter your outdated and prejudiced views the hard way.

(31)(5)

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