Sacked barrister setting 'wrong example' over uniform case, says mum

Ruby Williams, now 18, with her dad Lenny and mum Kate. Picture: Williams family

Ruby Williams, now 19, with her dad Lenny and mum Kate. Picture: Williams family - Credit: Williams family

A barrister was sacked from his chambers for calling a former Hackney schoolgirl a “stroppy teenager of colour”.

Barrister Jon Holbrook was expelled from his position at Cornerstone Barristers following tweets concerning Hackney’s Ruby Williams, now 19.

Ruby made headlines when she challenged her school’s uniform policy after being sent home due to the length of her afro hair.

She received an £8,500 out-of-court-settlement from Urswick School on Paragon Road.

Mr Holbrook retweeted a video featuring Ruby, saying: “The Equality Act undermines school discipline by empowering the stroppy teenager of colour.”

Ruby’s mother, Kate Williams, said the whole affair has been “a nightmare” as Ruby was “just getting on with her life”.

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Kate added: “What point [was Mr Holbrook] trying to make? It’s the wrong example."

She feels her daughter is being used as a political "pawn" in a debate she is not involved with. 

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Kate says the case was about her child's "right to be treated as favourably as everyone else's child", not about partisan politics, and feels it was unfair for Mr Holbrook to comment on what Ruby went through "at such a young age".

Members of the chambers Cornerstone Barristers voted to expel Mr Holbrook on January 31, stating his comments made from his personal Twitter account were “irreconcilable” and “offensive”.

The barrister has not removed the tweet or apologised, and his Twitter bio currently reads: “Cancelled for challenging the woke.”

When approached for comment, Mr Holbrook directed this newspaper to a piece he wrote for The Critic. 

In the article, he considers Ruby’s case among other uniform court cases and argues school uniform policies should not be required to accommodate “cultural sensitivities” by law.  

He also denies the tweet was racist, saying it would have made little sense without reference to race as: "Ruby won her case because she was 'of colour'."

Mr Holbrook was called out by others on social media, including Shadow Lord Chancellor David Lammy.

Meanwhile, Ruby said she was not pleased with his expulsion but “grateful” the tweet was taken “so seriously”.

Ruby's official school photo for years 10 and 11, taken at the end of year nine. Picture: Ruby Willi

Ruby's official school photo for Years 10 and 11, taken at the end of Year 9. - Credit: Ruby Williams

She has joined the Halo Collective, a group fighting hair discrimination, and her mother and father have set up a support group for parents dealing with similar issues.

The family is working with Hackney Council to contribute to guidance on school hair policies.

Email Kate at info@worldafroday to join the support group.

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