Labour MP Slams Decision to Appoint ‘White, Upper Middle Class Judge’ in Grenfell Inquiry

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A Labour MP described as “the British Obama” has questioned Sir Martin Moore-Bick’s ability to lead the Grenfell Tower inquiry as “a white, upper middle class man”.

Sir Martin is a veteran judge and lawyer who specialised in commercial law and rose through the ranks of the judiciary to become a Lord Justice of Appeal and Vice-President of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal, advising two Lord Chancellors under the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.

But David Lammy, born in London to Guyanese parents and married to a portrait artist and gallery director from a wealthy white family, said it was “a shame that we couldn’t find a woman to lead the inquiry or indeed an ethnic minority” in a Sky News interview.

Lammy, who became a barrister in 1994, dismissed Sir Martin as someone “who I suspect has never visited a tower block housing estate”.

“I think the victims will also say to themselves when push comes to shove there are some powerful people here – contractors, sub-contractors, local authorities, governments – and they look like this judge,” he alleged. “Whose side will he be on?”

Lammy, an EU loyalist who was Minister of State for Culture under Tony Blair and Minister of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills under Gordon Brown, appears to have a very strong racial identity.

“I don’t care which branch of the Islington mafia is running the Labour Party,” he told The Guardian in a recent interview. “People used to ask, Blair or Brown? I would say no, just black. That is who I am.”

The left wing newspaper described Lammy as a protégé of the late Stuart Hall – the “prime mover of multiculturalism” – and believes “the understanding of any event in [British] society still has to involve race”.

“In the end I am a black man in Britain,” the MP declared. “I am judged in those terms every time I open my mouth.”

Lammy himself grew up beside – although not on – the notorious Broadwater Farm estate, where Police Constable Keith Blakelock was “butchered” by a mob during race riots in 1985.

The Labour MP’s father was a taxidermist with his own business. He left the family when Lammy was 12, although not before his son had won a choral scholarship to the elite The King’s (The Cathedral) School in Peterborough, founded by Henry VIII in 1541.

He went on to study at the School of Law in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, and Harvard Law School in the U.S., where he befriended future president Barack Obama.

Follow Jack Montgomery on Twitter: @JackBMontgomery