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Indian-origin woman becomes first non-white judge at Old Bailey

She was called to the bar in 1989 and was made a Queen?s Counsel in 2010. (Image source: Press Association screengrab) Photograph: (Twitter)

WION Delhi, India Apr 08, 2017, 06.03 PM (IST)

The Old Bailey's first non-white circuit judge is a 49-year-old Indian-origin woman, Anuja Ravindra Dhir. She became a circuit judge at the Old Bailey in February.

But it hasn’t been an easy journey for Judge Dhir.

In an interview with the Press Association, she says she was often mistaken for a witness or defendant when she started working as a lawyer.

She also said at first, most clients did not want to be represented by a young Asian Scottish female. 

Judge Dhir was once told by her school teacher to be a  hairdresser instead of going to university. This was in the 1970s.

"My daughter, it would never cross her mind being treated differently because she's a female or because she's not white, whereas in my generation we did,” she told the Press Association.

"We were surprised when people didn't treat us differently. Not now, but when I came to the bar, I was not expecting to be treated like a white Oxbridge male at all."

She was called to the bar in 1989 and was made a Queen’s Counsel in 2010.

She says most barristers were male at that time, white, from a public school, and with "some connection" to the profession.

"Now that's four differences already before we start," she said.

"Added to that, most clients did not want a young Asian Scottish female representing them so that made it harder for me to build a client base."

Judge Dhir said she once had to produce her wig and gown before security allowed her into court.


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