Humbled honorary graduate Imran Khan QC paid tribute to the Chancellor of De Montfort University (DMU) Baroness Doreen Lawrence during summer graduations, saying he would not be standing where he was if it had not been ‘for one incredible woman’.
Mr Khan was receiving the award of Honorary Doctor of Law at the 11th summer graduation ceremony on Wednesday morning for his ‘championing of the vulnerable and of those fighting to have their voices heard’.
During his address to an audience of 400 people, Mr Khan took the spotlight away from himself and asked the graduands, and their families and friends, to pay tribute to Baroness Lawrence.
He said: “Little did I know when I grew up in East London that one day I would be recognised for the work that I have done
“All of that work would not have been possible, and I would not be standing here today, if it was not for one incredible woman, your Chancellor Baroness Doreen Lawrence.
“Will you join me now in a round of applause for her.”
Mr Khan’s work with Baroness Lawrence, her then husband Neville, and their family - during a courageous and determined pursuit of justice for their murdered son Stephen - has been described as a defining moment for British society.
Mr Khan has worked tirelessly over more than two decades to represent Baroness Lawrence and her family, in a case often hampered by those meant to stand for justice.
It has been a long road: the fight for private prosecutions, for inquests, the Macpherson Inquiry identifying institutional racism, the struggle for criminal prosecution and for a police corruption inquiry.
During those years Mr Khan and Baroness Lawrence have become friends and so it was fitting that the DMU Chancellor was at the ceremony to present him with his honorary degree.
After paying tribute to the Chancellor Mr Khan then turned to the hundreds of students graduating and told them of the importance of education and the need to enjoy the work they do in the future.
Mr Khan said: “As for the next chapter of your lives, I leave you with a saying reportedly made by the Chinese philosopher Confucius: ‘If you enjoy what you do you will never work a single day of your life’.
“I must confess, I haven’t been working for the last 30 years of my life. With all sincerity I wish you the same.”
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Students, needless to say, were delighted to have graduated at the ceremony.
Chloe Merralls, from the Isle of Man, graduated with a Law degree and is now planning to continue her studies at DMU.
She said: “I decided to come to DMU after attending one of the open days. The university was really friendly and encouraging. It was the first and only open day I went to because I was completely sold straight away.
“My placement year (with a law firm) was the highlight for me and coming back it made me much more confident in my studies. I have grown a lot as a person and as a professional.
“I am coming back to do my Legal Practice Course (LPC) and Master’s of Law (LLM). I decided to stay at DMU because of all the help I have had with the tutors – I would not want to go anywhere else.”
Conor Whelan, from Preston, graduated in Business Law, saying: “The three years have been unreal and this just tops it off with the graduation. It is a good, happy ending and I’ve got another year here to go with postgraduate studies.”
Law graduate Siddiqah Bholat added: “The Law course challenges you and pushes you to prepare for your future career.
“For me, the highlight would be the DMU global trips. I went on three: to Canada, Hong Kong and New York. We got to see how law is practiced in different countries.”
Fellow Law graduate Simran Sansoye said: “It’s been a great three years here. There has been a lot of support. I have grown so much in confidence as a person and a professional.”
You can read the full citation here.
Posted on Wednesday 17th July 2019