AS THE first person of colour to be appointed to the Court of Appeal, you can understand Lord Justice Singh’s frustration that diversity at the highest level of the legal profession is still perceived as a novelty.
“Everyone can see what I am. I just do not understand this fixation of identifying people with reference to their religious or ethnic identity,” says Sir Rabinder Singh, whose be-turbaned rather than be-wigged appearance is still known to turn heads in judicial corridors.
He was the youngest person (just 39) to be made a high court judge.
Singh was brought up by working class immigrant parents in a tough part of Bristol.
Academically gifted, he thrived at grammar school where his dream of becoming a lawyer was inspired by reading the novel To Kill A Mockingbird, in which a black man in America’s deep south is falsely accused of raping a white woman.
Singh’s own vocation might just have been denied had he heeded the caution of those who advised that becoming a barrister might be a step too far for someone of his background. Undeterred, he gained a double first in law from Trinity College, Cambridge, and an LLM from the University of California, Berkeley. He then won a scholarship to the Inns of Court and succeeded to the Bar in 1989 where the quality of his advocacy in a succession of notable cases made him a star.
He was named Barrister of the Year in 2001 by The Lawyer magazine, appointed a QC in 2002, a high court Judge in 2011 and subsequently, appointed to the court of appeal.
His judicial star rose even higher in September 2018 when he was put in charge of the independent tribunal that investigates complaints against the intelligence services – a crucial role in a