Peter Herbert, a part-time judge and a barrister with Tooks Chambers, set up in 1984 with much of its early work relating to representing defendants arrested during the miners’ strike, has emerged as one of the most prominent voices in the racism rows that have engulfed the English game in recent weeks.
Following the eight-match ban for Luis Suárez and the four-match sanction handed to John Terry after they were found guilty of issuing racist insults, Herbert has issued a damning appraisal of the current sanctions imposed on those found guilty of racism and demanded much stiffer tariffs to act as a suitable deterrent.
Herbert told Telegraph Sport: “I think that the issue of punishment to those who are found guilty of being racist should be dealt with seriously. At the moment, a four-match or an eight-match ban is just unacceptable. It’s viewed in the community as a joke.
“It is viewed by black players as simply as a slap on the wrist and if you are going to take on racism, you have to make it so expensive, so humiliating that people don’t do it.
“Significant is six months, 12 months. You make it so expensive to be a racist, you don’t do it.
“At the moment it’s affordable. A sort of pay-as-you-go racism. For the clubs it’s affordable, for Serbia it’s affordable. You have to make it unaffordable to be racist and to behave in that way then it will stop.”
Herbert, 55, grew up in the North-East and, despite an affection for football and Newcastle United, he felt like many black men of his generation that he could not attend matches because of the culture of racism that prevailed. “That does help form your views of the world,” he said.
Terry, who has been available for selection during
On Sunday, as his team-mates donned One Game, One Community T-shirts for the first time since their captain’s ban, Terry wore a Kick It Out badge. That led Herbert to question his sincerity and to urge the former England captain to attend a racism-awareness course.
“Everyone is susceptible to change but maybe people need to learn a hard lesson first,” he added. “Clearly there was no apology from him for more than a year.
“He played the system and didn’t want to admit anything and then puts on a T-shirt. I mean it just sounds like complete hypocrisy. And the FA’s suggestion that a person can make a racist comment and not be a racist; what type of nonsense is that?
“You know, I beat my wife but I don’t hate women. It’s ridiculous so as far as having credibility, the FA themselves undermine their credibility – first by their lack of logic in their sentence and secondly by the leniency of the sentence itself.
“We reported [Clattenburg] because I know from my time with the police authority in London that you need to report it as a racial incident – then it’s up to them whether to investigate it or not. We have our doubts that the FA or PFA to actually do it so we will do it.
“We are not talking about educating people out of their behaviour – we are talking, as Martin Luther King said, about regulating their behaviour. That’s what we are talking about.”
Herbert sits as a recorder in the Crown Court and is also a part-time judge on immigration and employment tribunals.
He has long-standing links with the National Bar Association in the US and, since the Suárez case, has assisted in relaying advice over American sports’ successful introduction of the Rooney Rule, which introduces quotas for interview shortlists in coaching positions.
He has spent 30 years at the Bar, and has a long and distinguished history in tackling racism in society.
He was the first chair of the Race-Hate Crimes Forum set up by the now-disbanded Metropolitan Police Authority in 2003, in the wake of the Stephen Lawrence murder. Herbert was a deputy chair of the MPA at the time.
Until recently, he was the lead counsel defending Dr Augustin Ngirabatware, the former minister of planning in Rwanda who is accused of genocide and crimes against humanity. The Ngirabatware case has been adjourned until later this year.
Herbert made the police complaint about Clattenburg on behalf of the Society of Black Lawyers, of which he is the chairman.
On his personal website Herbert claims his early career suffered because of racist attitudes within his profession.
“As with many black and minority practitioners racism played a significant part in limiting opportunities,” he wrote.