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Kamlesh Bahl, Vice-President, The Law Society
"This is all part of a plot to get rid of me from The Law Society"
 real 28k

Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 22:05 GMT
Law chief suspended over bullying
Kamlesh Bahl
Kamlesh Bahl accuses the Law Society of discrimination
The Law Society has suspended vice-president Kamlesh Bahl from its council after a highly critical report accused her of bullying staff.

A special general meeting to discuss Ms Bahl's "permanent removal" from the ruling body of the society which regulates solicitors in England and Wales will be held next month.


This is not just about whether I am a woman or black, it's about fundamental human rights in this country. If the Law Society can do this to its vice-president, what hope is there?

Kamlesh Bahl
The Law Society said the council had acted in the wake of the report by retired Law Lord, Lord Griffiths, which upheld five complaints that Ms Bahl had bullied staff, including senior personnel at the society.

Ms Bahl, a former chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission, was due to become the first female and first non-white president of the society this summer.

She has already begun a counter attack against the society accusing it of racial and sexual discrimination in the way it has handled the complaints against her.

Ms Bahl reacted with fury to news of her suspension.

"I am shocked that the Law Society decided to suspend me in my absence," she said.

"This was a clearly against the agreement that was reached with my legal advisers that it would be adjourned until next week.

Law Society coat of arms
The Law Society has been embarrassed by the row
"It's another example of the blatant breach of the rules of natural justice by the Law Society which should be upholding these rules.

"This is not just about whether I am a woman or black, it's about fundamental human rights in this country. If the Law Society can do this to its vice-president, what hope is there?"

Later Ms Bahl told Channel 4 News she believed the complaints of bullying had been "put together with a wider agenda, and that wider agenda has been to remove me from office".

"What the Law Society has done is trial by media, putting it on the front pages of newspapers as a form of victimisation."


Nothing should obscure the fact that the real issue here is bullying in the work place

The Law Society statement
But in a statement issued earlier, the society said Ms Bahl's allegations of race and sex discrimination were "outrageous".

"The society will defend itself vigorously against any such charges.

"Nothing should obscure the fact that the real issue here is bullying in the work place," it said.

The MSF union, which represents staff at the society, welcomed the suspension, saying it sent out a clear signal that such behaviour would not be tolerated.

The Law Society said Thursday's vote meant Ms Bahl was suspended from her post as vice-president pending the special general meeting which would be open to all 80,000 members of the Law Society.

'Beastly behaviour'

Following an investigation into the allegations made against Ms Bahl, Lord Griffiths concluded that she had "resorted to bullying tactics" and intimidated staff.

"Her treatment of staff was at times demeaning and humiliating and at other times offensively aggressive," it said.

A leaked copy of the report showed he had found Ms Bahl had driven staff to tears, publicly humiliated them and was guilty on occasion of "beastly behaviour".

Ms Bahl, who is being advised by employment specialist Cherie Booth QC, has claimed she has become the victim of a witch-hunt aimed at ousting her from office.

On Thursday she issued Employment Tribunal proceedings against the society, accusing it of sexual and racial discrimination against her in its handling of the allegations.

She said she believed her right to a fair trial had been breached and that she had been treated badly because "her face did not fit".

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