Thursday, July 25, 2024

Southall Black Sisters’ chief calls out ‘racist’ UK legal system after assault case collapses

Must read

The leader of an advocacy group representing black and minority ethnic women has criticised an “institutionally racist” and “unfair” legal system after an assault case against her and her two friends collapsed.

Selma Taha, 52, the executive director of Southall Black Sisters, Divina Riggon, 42, and Danae Thomas, 53, had been charged with assaulting a woman in King’s Cross underground station in London. The three women claimed they were victims of a violent racist attack.

The women had their assault case formally discontinued on Wednesday after prosecutors were provided with new information that meant they no longer had a realistic prospect of conviction.

Taha said: “I’m very happy that these racist charges have been dropped. We should never have been prosecuted. They should have never taken that line. Because what we know from the work that we do is this is what always happens to black women. They are always prosecuted first, rather than being seen as deserving victims.”

The three women were accused of assault by beating, while Riggon was also charged with harassment and Thomas accused of racially aggravated harassment. All the charges were discontinued.

Taha, who said she was racially abused and physically assaulted during an incident on a tube train in September last year, described the charges as “horrendous” and said the complainant had not been held accountable. It is understood the complainant had accepted a caution for racially aggravated conduct in relation to the incident on 29 September last year and no further action was taken.

Taha said the past 10 months had reaffirmed a lack of faith in the system, adding it “served as a daily reminder of the challenges we are up against as black, minoritised and migrant victim-survivors seeking a just response from an institutionally racist system”.

Rajiv Menon KC, the barrister representing Taha and Thomas, said: “This decision should have been made nine months ago, this prosecution should never have been brought. Danae, Selma and Divina were victims of a racist attack on the tube and whilst this kind of prosecution was extremely common 20, 30, 40 years ago, it should not be happening any more in 2024. It is an outrage.”

A spokesperson for the CPS said: “We have a duty to keep all cases under continuous review and following information received in the past few days, we decided that there was no longer a realistic prospect of conviction and these charges were discontinued.”

skip past newsletter promotion

Additional reporting by PA Media

Latest article