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OBE won’t change me: Herbert

Campaigning lawyer Peter Herbert has insisted that getting an OBE will not change him, and that he will continue to fight for justice.

A founder of the Society of Black Lawyers and a former member of the Metropolitan Police Authority, Herbert said that while he was pleased to have received the gong, his award was for fighting prejudice that should not have existed in the first place.

Speaking to the Dotun Adebayo show on BBC London he said: “It’s what the British do; they include those who criticise them in the round. So if you stay there long enough and they haven’t imprisoned you or kicked you out they give you something for all that trouble you’ve caused them.”

Herbert, who is now a part-time judge and immigration adjudicator, has a reputation not just for straight-talking, but also for his incisive oratory and sharp intellect.

He has survived two attempts by the Law Society to disbar him, the second after he spoke to the media on behalf of a client Maria Bamieh, who was accusing her employers, the Crown Prosecution Service, of racism.

Herbert said: “There’s an irony because if it wasn’t for the fact that our people have taken such a beating, and still have a hard time, then this work [I do] wouldn’t be necessary. So you’re awarded something that shouldn’t be a problem in the first place, which is racism.”

However he added: “It’s always nice to get some thanks from the Mother Country, so to speak. I’m not sure I like the Empire bit, but I’ll deal with that when I see Her Majesty!”

The Queen’s Honour’s list also awarded an OBE to Ahmed Shahzad, head of BAME Labour. A veteran of the former Black Sections and Black Socialist Society, businessman Shahzad was given the gong for services to black and minority ethnic communities.

He dedicated his award to the whole community, saying he will “accept it on behalf of everyone who campaigns for greater equality. This award belongs to everyone.”

By Lester Holloway

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