Who is Aamer Anwar? The human rights campaigner and lawyer seems to be involved in some big story or another almost every week. The Herald has published a full interview with Mr Anwar, which you can read here. But - for those who you who want to hear from Mr Anwar in his own words - here is a transcript of the part of conversation between Mr Anwar and one of our reporters, David Leask (DL)

DL Who is Aamer Anwar?

There are lots of versions of me. The public version is an angry rabble-rousing controversial lawyer. I would hope that when people meet me they would realise there is a pleasant side to me. I always get told ‘You never smile’ and ‘You always look angry’. But quite a lot of the stuff I do would make most people angry. It is not the sort of stuff you can go on the TV and smile about. You are dealing with atrocities and victims, so you can’t smile.

Some people say I have mellowed over the years. I don’t think I have mellowed or grown more conservative. I have learned lessons over the years on how to fight for the campaigns or for the families or individuals and realise there are different ways of doing things.

When I had my teeth smashed in by the police - that was November 1991, that was 24 years ago - I remember at that time I was an extremely angry young man with a huge chip on his shoulder. And quite rightly so. I look back through segments of my life and how I would shout and scream. As the years went on, you get armed with knowledge, you get to known individuals and people who deal with things differently.

HeraldScotland: Solicitor Aamer Anwar read out a statement on behalf of a family whose daughter travelled to Syria and married an Isis fighter

DL Has the system changed too?

The system has grown up and the people involved, the police, the authorities. Sometimes people forget that.

People say things like 'Aamer Anwar hates the police'. Well, I certainly don’t, I have close friends who are officers or ex-officers. But I don’t shy away from challenging them and being robust in the challenge that I do to them.

Some of those individual police officers have worked over 20 years and have grown up through the system and will have changed in the way they view things the same way I have.

DL How many hours do you sleep?

 At best, about four and a half, at worst about three.

DL That is not enough

No it is not, but I have got used to it. I have had to get used to it. Because there are not enough hours in the day. I wish you could have eight days in the week.

The work has increased. It is hard to say No. It is almost as if the world has become insane. In the last year they have gone coimpketely insane things just seem to have happen.

DL Are you a victm of your own success?

Yeah, that is inevitable. People will come because of my involvement with something that I have done previously.

I can’t take on everything. Sometimes what gets me is that people assume I am a millionaire. Iw ork extremely hard and I wouild be better off being a plumber or a hairdresser.

DL Are you nearly a millionaire?

No. I live in the same tenement that I have lived in for the last 13 years. I am not poor, I am acomforable. Friends who are plumbers say 'We are better off than you'.

A large proportion of the high profile cases you will see I do for free, pro bono.

If you wanted to be a millionaire, there are a lot better jobs to get in to . My drivinig motive has never been money.

DL Are you worried there are a lot of numpties out there who will be caught up in the heat around Paris?

I am worried there are a lot of numpties – the tirade against my friend Humza Yousaf on Twitter. I try not to get engaged in the abuse. I just put something about a 15-strong mob who attacked a Muslim takeaway owner and they said ‘This is for Paris’.

I am worried about numpties on both sides.

HeraldScotland: I was in London after Paris. I was so conscious for the first time of the way people were looking at you. You could see police in the concourse. I observed two girls in hijabs and I could see the body language and people muttering and looking. To me, it just stood out. I felt in a climate of fear. Whereas I thought. What I was thinking when I was getting on that train and I was getting message from family in Pakistan saying stay safe. They were worried if there was a bomb attack in London. I was thinking 'You face this every day of your life'.

I was at my Mum and Dad’s house in Liverpool when Paris happened and I was up till 4.30 in the morning when I couldn’t take it anymore, I had to get to my bed.

Before I did, I looked at my kids, my son, my daughter, and it was upsetting because I was thinking “Here we go again”. It was like Groundhog Day. I remember 9/11.  I was unsure of what it would bring. But since then we have seen exactly what it has meant to the community worldwide and in this country and what it meant in this country.

Prior to 9/11 my parents were seen as hard-working Muslims who don’t break the law and work day and night and feed and educate their children, who try and build a better life in this society; the salt of the Earth who never cause any problems. Then post 9/11 - blanketly - we were all seen as fifth columnists, the enemy within to be monitored.

So I thought ‘Here we go again'. The warmongers, those who want the security state, will be at it again. Those who can’t be racist publically and will frame it in terms of Muslims. I felt sad and I felt upset and I thought I know how hard my parents have worked and how hard I have worked and if there is one thing I will focus my life on is anti-racism.  I have always fought extremism. I thought ‘What have my kids done to deserve that they will be thinking its Muslims who are attacking us’.

DL How far would the word ‘Muslim’ be up the list if I asked 'Who is Aamer Anwar'?

It would be very high up.

DL Has that changed?

It has changed because I know that if you took it pre 9/11 it was not high up at all. It is part of my identity now and my security. Which it never was.

And that is the responsibility of those who blame 1.6bn Muslims for the work of some extremists."

Lots of people have become more religious and more focused on the spirituality and God. That is not a bad thing.

It gives them a moral set of values. It makes them think about their family and their community. Yet because they are Muslims,  it is seen as dangerous. If it was Wee Frees or Catholics......

It has been a case since 9/11 it has been built up. If you attack someone they will defend it. More and more you start to identify yourself as part of your community. I see myself as a Scouser and as a Scotsman who happens to be a Muslim.  I see myself as an internationalist who does not believe in borders.

DL Do you believe in God?


DL Have you always?


As a young man growing up I believed in God and then I became a revolutionary socialist.

I am not particularly religious; I am quite westernised. But my faith or spirituality has returned.

DL When was the last time you prayed to God?

I suppose it was on Friday when I went to bed after the Paris attacks and looked at my kids fast asleep. I looked at their faces and I just thought I just want things to be better. If anything if there life is to be worthwhile it is leaving something worthwhile for your children and making sure th we world is a better place.

Not for them to deal with racism, inhumanity.

DL When you moved away from God did that have an effect on your relationship with your family?

Yeah, I was seen as a nutcase. I remember the first time I told my mum and dad six months after my teeth were smashed out by the police. I went home and when I told them. The first reaction by my was to say ~What did you do wrong?’. He had family in Pakistan who had been in the police and military. He had a very conservative set of values. My mum’s reaction was to cry.

I was quite hardcore as a demonstrator. I was organiser for the anti-Nazi league, smashing up a memorial to Rudolf Hess.  I was in and out of trouble with the poilice. I was arrested so many times at demos and riots. I would be part of, I suppose, those people that police would say were folk who were there to cause trouble. I was dangerous. I was Always up for a fight. I hated the authorities. On one view I could be seen as dangerous and at other times I would not be doing anything. A nuisance. A thorn in the side.

That impacted on the relationship with my parents. My sister went to Cambridge. My mum and dad were thinking ‘Are you ever going to get a job?’.

DL Are you respectable?

I hope not. I would not regard myself as respectable. I don’t think I am there to be respectable

The next stage is becoming a judge. I don’t see how I could become a judge. I don’t think the establishment would ever accept me. I hope they would never accept me. Because if it does, then I have sold out.

They don’t take people like me.

DL Why not?

Racism has been written out of the picture; everybody says it has been fixed.

How many High court judges are ethnic minority? Zero.


Within criminal law there is a lot more diversity, which there was not 10 years ago or 20 years ago. You see a lot opf people in the Crown Office.

We still have institutional racism but nobody likes to mention it now. It is the elephant in the room. I dare not mention it.

People assume I play the race card. 99.9% of the time I don’t even mention the word 'race'.

I work 100 times harder than my counterparts. Yet I always have to have eyes in the back of my head to be kicked down.

DL Do you still think of yourself as a troublemaker?

It is more focused

You can rabble-rouse as much as you want. You can have the demos all you want but if you want real change then you need to change politicians, judicial authorities and the way they approach things.

As a rabble-rouser you come to realise “is this it”. You have a demo but what does this achieve?

Mr Chhokar [Darshan Singh Chhokar, the father of murdered Surjit Singh Chhokar] was a warrior for justice. He did not want to be. But in the midst of his grief he had to set up a campaign for justice and speak. He brought about more change than hundreds of demos.


DL So why didn't you run for parliament?

I would give up. I would be a disaster.

I was supposed to go for the list or stand in the Central constituency.

It was a combination. It was the prospect of not being able to see my children’s faces in the morning and at night. It was towing the party line. I did not want to be in the position where I thought that could not speak my mind.  To be fair, I was told I could.

People like Humza [Yousaf] and Alex [Salmond] wanted me to be there and they wanted to bring a campaigning talent. But I was conscious that I am only half way through my legal career.


HeraldScotland: First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond poses for a portrait at the Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood, California, in this June 17, 2012 file photo. Scotland's nationalist leader Alex Salmond has more than independence on his mind. The combative politiI am the sort of person who very quickly could have become fed up and angry and I would not have been very good.

I thought I could win it hands down. For years that is the direction I thought I could go in.

I have close personal friends who are politicians who do a terrific job. I don’t think I would make a very good politician.

DL I think you would be a bloody nuisance as a politician and that is a good thing. Could you not see yourself being really annoying politican who challenge people in different ways?

A minister said to me: 'It is a good job you went; you would have taken the whip off us and used it to whip us in to shape'.

A lot of people said do you not regret [not running]?  Of course, yes, when you go down there and see, yes. But every day or every week I have been involved outside parliament.

Every week there is some form of political activity, campaigning.

There is some form of snobbery from colleagues that I am not really a lawyer. Some people said you would make a better politician than a lawyer. I beg to differ. I was down in London and the people that I would aspire to be are people like Imran Khan, Gareth Pierce,  people who have devoted their lives to being campaigners as well as lawyers and focusing on those individuals. It is not just a case of a lawyer going to court and doing his spiel.  I still see myself as a political activist.

HeraldScotland: Mr Anwar with Sheiku Bayoh's familyMr Anwar with Sheiku Bayoh's family

When you take the Bayoh case, the M9, the role of Police Scotland. I was very conscious that it was much better being a thorn in the side of the establishment, whoever the establishment is, even if it happens to be SNP.

A lot of people were like ‘That is the SNP, you can’t say that.” And I was, like, ‘I am a member of the SNP. Of course I can say that’. We have 80,000 new members of course people should be speaking out. We are not meant to simply roll over.

DL Do you worry that criticism of the SNP is seen as unpatriotic?

If you take that in the context. You will see the same usual suspects saying that. In the context of a population of six million you will see the same people on social media. I saw that around the Bayoh stuff. People would say ‘Why has this come out at this time, it should be something else’. And I say ‘Because it is a bloody issue for Scotland’.

DL Also it was an incident. It was something that happened.

It was something that had to be brought to the fore. Our view was that we will not remain silent because if you are silent you don’t get the truth and if you don’t get the truth you don’t get justice.

DL Have you shaken Kenny MacAskill’s hand yet?

I have. I mean Kenny no harm. I said to Kenny he should get back to his vino and his holiday when he had his diatribe against me. He is more than welcome to say what he wishes to. He was dealt with robustly with the Lord Advocate.

You can’t on one level say everybody should keep an open mind and then become judge and jury yourself, especially when you occupy the position of justice secretary.

At the end of the day, he can take flack.

HeraldScotland: Kenny McAskill

I am conscious of the fact the SNP has been in government for eight years and like it or not you can become part of the establishment or you can consider yourself the establishment so it is even more pressing then that individuals who are in the party or outside should hold them to account. I find an open door.

I think [Justice Secretary] Michael Matheson [pictured below] is doing a good job – I think he is robust and transparent. He has a difficult job but he is doing a good job.

I think people need to challenge them. I don’t like to get involved in the political football part of it. I just think if this is the right thing to do then you should do it publically rather than shy away because of politics. Had I been a politician, it could have been seen as disloyalty.

HeraldScotland: Michael Matheson, now the Justice Secretary, launched the 125ml wine initiative in January 2014

DL Do you think Scotland will be independent?

Yes. It is just a question of when. The way things are carrying on, it is going more and more in that direction.

DL You are a Scouser as well as a Scot.

If anybody had asked me 10 years ago or probably five years ago would I have believed in independence I would have said no.

DL You would not have believed that it would happen?

I didn’t believe it would happen. I believed in the Union, fundamentally. I was brought up to believe in the UK and Britain and I suppose it was just seeing what was happening around me.

I had been in Glasgow since 1986 and seeing the difference in treatment and, I suppose, what happened to Merseyside as well during the Tory years. How it was decimated. It was almost crushed and how  everything is poured in to London. And, I suppose, having children and you think of their future and what is best for them. What type of society do I want them to be brought up? The British state does not hold those values any more.

DL Fatherhood has been a big deal for you, hasn’t it?


DL What do you think the big difference has been to you by having children?

My mum said to me ‘Just you wait till you have kids and then we will see how you act’. A lot of times I will find myself thinking about the impact on the children. You think about their futures. You are not just thinking about yourself anymore, so it makes you less selfish.

It is mind-blowing because it is unconditional love – for now – it will probably change in their teenage years.

DL It doesn’t change.

Does it not?

DL: Your parents will feel the same way.

It makes you think about somebody else.

DL Do you think Aqsa Mahmood’s parents still love their daughter?

I can relate to that. When I represent the Mahmood family it has been a very difficult line to walk because I was conscious of seeing two parents who were very kind, loving and liberal having to publically condemn their daughter but at the same time saying ‘We still love our daughter, not matter what’. I know that. I fall out with my mum all the time.

HeraldScotland: Collect Pictures of Aqsa Mahmood suspected of joining ISIS and Miltant Islamic fighters on Jihad in Syria...Picture s Supplied by the Mahmood Family through their Lawyer Aamer Anwar. (41238659)

When I saw her on Friday night [of the Paris attacks] I held her for ages like I was a wee kid again. I hope I don’t lose that feeling when I see my children’s face at night and see them in the morning and give them a hug and drop them off at school. It is something private which gives me total tremendous joy and gives me inspiration.

Sometimes you can get so engrossed in your campaigns and you can be solely focussed on that. You can become quite egotistical and vain. And then you have got your kids and that totally brings you back on track. It is unconditional. It is unselfish, it is about them.

How to make them good people.

DL Is that where your faith comes in?

Uhuh. You want them to be good, You want them to change the world. I have been taking my son to demonstrations since he was six weeks old. I remember people taking me up on it. Now he came to a meeting a couple of week ago about Sheiku Bayoh. He had the iPad. I said to be my son ‘Did you listen to what I had to say?’. He surprised me. He said, ‘I heard everything you said’.

Even Paris. That is just so, so depressing watching that. You just think ‘Here we go again’. The thought of those families, the funerals, the coffins, the parents who will never see their children again. Then added to that this war they want to restart. How many minds are going to be sucked in to this cesspit and radicalised and pulled in. Because we have not learned the lessons about what drives this all.

My children are Asian, they are Muslim, they are marked out by the colour of their skin and their religion. They are going to grow up in this environment. And we are told this is generational issue. We see a prime minister stand up and say that rather than say ‘We are going to carry on as we are and be tolerant because that is what ISIS hates’.

I know that is going to mean bad things for my children. My seven year old asking me questions. He has been in tears. Why should a young child deal with the stuff he sees on TV and hears kids say in the classroom.

DL Who are your inspirations?

Gareth Pierce is the number one role model of everything that a lawyer should be about. She is an amazing woman. How she keeps going! She has been through everything. The Irish. The Birmingham Six. The Guildford Four. Now she is dealing with the Algerians and the Muslims and the so-called terrorists in Guantanamo. I heard Moazzem Begg speak and I thought here is a man who has suffered at the hands of the British security service and the Americans and all he can speak about is peace, justice compassion and humanity.

DL Has the British State been a force for good or for evil in the world?

Both. Both. I think Britain is the best place in the world to stay.  I have had a few people telling me to 'f*** off back to your country and live under the flag of ISIS'. They are insane. This is my country. This is where I was born and brought up. I see Britain as a beacon. It is not the tokenistic thing you hear from Home Secretaries who say were are a beacon for freedom and then let people die in boats, in the sea.

HeraldScotland: Lawyer Aamer Anwar (centre) is pictured with the sisters and brother of Mumtaz Sattar; Razwana Jilani (left), Mehnaz Jilani (2nd left), Sarfraz Ali (2nd right) and Shabana Khan (right) during a press conference. Danny Lawson/PA Wire

These are the values I think are important which is why I fight for them, what is best about being British.

But then the worst aspects are the denials of racism, imperialism and sticking our noses in other countries and being lapdogs for the US.

Slavery; the robbing of resources; the dirty deals in the desert; the deals with vultures. We have had four sets of butchers in the last few weeks coming through the doors of No. 10. We are talking how low did Corbyn bow to the Queen. Well, how low did Cameron bow to the Saudi king?

DL So is the balance equal?

I don’t know about equal. It goes up and down. There is no way of measuring it.

I still think this is one of the greatest countries in the world to live in. I sometimes thing “Where would I go”. I thought that on Friday. It was so depressing. I saw the hatred on social media. My mum was like ‘Get off the phone’. I was watching the hatefest. They were turning on Muslims. I would not go to Pakistan.

DL Can you speak languages spoken in Pakistan?

 Yes I speak Urdu and Punjabi.

DL As a native?

Yes I am fluent in those.

I would not want to go to America. I would not want to go to France with the rise of the far right. Maybe I would have a millionaire island. This country is where I would want to stay.

DL There are very low levels of understanding of the Muslim world in the Western world. Do you think we are capable of understanding?

If we continue to see it as Muslims and then assume that we are all just one, no.

But I am conscious there is a need for a modernising influence in the Muslim community.

There is rank hypocrisy entrenched within some organisations and individuals, patriarchy. They will mouth of the words of equality but there is sectarianism. One section of the community is set off against the other. There is racism.

DL Muslims are not immune to being idiots?

The community needs to look within itself, within its own heart and ask itself how it is going to be a modernising influence, to look to the future and not the past.  Not because it is being attacked by bigots but because it is necessary to survive and to change.

Islam was always a revolutionary religion. It was a force for good. We saw thast during the dark ages. When there were peopke living in huts in this country and the Muslims had maths and science.

You always hope when a bomb goes off that it is not Muslims.

Sections off our community need to be less hypocritical.HeraldScotland: People at Jamiyat Tabligh-ul-Islam Central Mosque taking a moment of reflection in solidarity with other mosques, paying their respects to the Paris attack victims

DL what are they hypocritical about?

Equality. Sexism, Patriarchy. Abuse. Sexual abuse.  All these issues which are taboo which we won’t discuss. Homophobia.

DL Physical punishment of children?


DL Will Islamophobia force modernisers back in to their bunkers?

It does. If you are from the community and you are speaking out then it is seen as attacking the community. But what is the excuse before that?

I don’t agree with the idea that Muslim leaders haver to continually stand up and apologise for the actions for a handful of criminals. They are no more guilty than Christians are for the crimes of Anders Brievik, pictured,HeraldScotland: Luton residents have hit back at slurs on the town by Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik (Scanpix Norway) or the KKK.

But at the same time there is no point continually saying that Islam is a language of peace. I don’t think that stops radicalisation. The guy from the mosque is on the TV and says Islam is peaceful. Most of these guys are not going along to the Mosque to listen to theser people. It’s not like there are hook-handed preachers who are feeding the hate.

It is all very well that we place our mother and sisters and our wives on a pedestal. When it comes to their involvement within mosques, there is no involvement.

DL You are the father of a daughter. How would you feel if your daughter turned up with the full hijab?

If I am honest, I would be worried, concerned. It is not the path I would choose for her.

DL But she is a person in her own right.

Yes, and I would defend the right of any person to do that. It would be for my children to choose this path for themselves.

DL Why would you worry about it?

I would worry about it in terms of --- I know the backlash people are going through.

Everybody talks about the persecution of women who wear the hijab. Most of the women I know who wear the hijab are tremendously strong women who go through a tremendous amount of abuse every day of their lives. Often they have taken their own choice to wear that outfit themselves and have great strength to put up with that.

HeraldScotland: Hijab for a day: Non-muslim Kingston students try the headscarf

Before it was just the colour of our skin now it is religious garments or if you have a beard or dressed in a certain way. In the old days it was just ‘you black bastard, you Paki bastard’. Now it is 'You Muslim Bastard'. Or 'Taliban'. You are wearing this or that.

DL Would hijab for you not be the symbol of a less modernised Islam? Or am I being ignorant?

It is in this society. I was in Lebanon in 2007 after the Israelis attacked. I remember I went with lots of preconceived ideas. They said, 'This is the land of the miniskirt and the hijab', where the two things live side by side. It is not seen as somehow that this is an attack on modernity.  It is seen as part of the rich tapestry of the country. We don’t abuse nuns walking down the street.

DL Well, they do sometimes.

Sometimes. But it is part of a very small minority. Do you want a society dictated by 'You can’t wear this'? Where is the free speech that says you can wear a mini skirt but not a head garment?

DL Would you send your daughter back to her bedroom if she came down dressed to go out in hijab?

You are asking me something hypothetical and I just don’t know. Parents as they grow older can become more conservative. I don’t know how I would react. There will be different reactions. It would the same argument if your daughter came downstairs wearing practically nothing.

DL Exactly.

That argument takes place in every household.

DL This may sound like a job interview, but what are you going to be doing in five years’ time? You’re not going to be a judge or an MP, so what? I shall come back and check!

The dream has always been to work towards some form of a law centre that works towards campaigns. Sometimes it is extremely draining because you don’t have the funds, the money, to be able to pick up cam0aiugnsd and run with them and train up young lawyers.

DL How many have you got in your practice?

There are four other lawyers.

DL So you are not a big firm, given your profile, which is probably the highest in the country. How many lawyers would you like?

How long is a piece of string....Twenty? I see people like Gareth [Pierce] who have young people who come in and train in social media and the campaign and press side of it. I have to do a lot of stuff myself.

DL How much of your day is PR?

I would say 50 per cent.

DL I guessed as much.

Take the M9. You take a lot of energy. And these are cases that are not in court and you are trying to push it in the right direction. You want to get the right terminology because you know that one slip of a word can mean the end of your career.

But it can allow those who are opposing you to win the day and have a major impact. The media at times can be fickle. Maybe that is not the right word. I see all this nonsense about MSM but there has to be a recognition that you only have a certain time slot and you can only get in certain number of words.

Bob Wylie, [pictured] an old friend, took me aside after the Chhokar thing and said “Son, you have 30 seconds, cram your point in to that.” I have moulded the right message, the soundbites in to a small quantity of words.  It is also about trying to predict how the other side is going to say.


DL Unkind people might say you are a PR lawyer, rather than a lawyer-lawyer. Is that fair?

I suppose those would be the lawyers that have no profile. If I was being unkind. And there is a lot of them.

There is a great deal off professional jealousy. I shall say that. I for one have never spoken about it. I can’t say that anyone has ever done many favours for me in the legal institutions. It has always been difficult.

It has always been tough. Sometimes it feels as if you are completely and utterly on your own. I miss people like Paul McBride. He was good person to talk to in the time of need.

HeraldScotland: FUNERAL: Paul McBride QC was laid to rest in Barrhead

I could probably count on my hand individuals I could turn to that I would trust implicitly. I can think of one solicitor and one counsel, two counsel. That is not a lot after 17 years of a legal career.

That is quite a lonely place to be.

DL Who are they?

John-Paul Mowberry, who works in litigation, and Claire Mitchell, who is a leading counsel advocate. I would say these those people. And Sarah Livingstone.

I think it is unkind [to say I am a PR lawyer]. We are living in the 21st century and it is about time lawyers got out of the dark ages. Times are changing.

If they don’t adapt, they will die. Part and parcel of that is PR. People do watch TV. People do read books. And they expect their lawyers to react and deal with issues in a certain way. There is no point standing on steps of the court when things are done and dusted. You have to fight from day one of your case and that means taking on the police and taking on the Crown Office.

If you come out of the court and say this should have been done and that should have been done. Then it is too late. You need to use the PR as part of your tools or your weapons, the armoury you utilise. One is the law, one is anything else you can utilise to drive your point home.

DL We have these cases played out in the media in the way a lot of people can’t recall. There is a judicial process under way and some of the debates are out there. There are people who are uncomfortable with that.

Those people may well be uncomfortable. But those people who were uncomfortable have not been in the receiving end, like the HeraldScotland: Edinburgh unions and students back Sheku Bayoh family Bayoh family who have been repeatedly lied to, or told to be silent, or repeatedly patronised. People seem to have forgotten the family are part of the process with rights that are enshrined under human rights and that they are entitled to authorities who are open and transparent and if they are not they are judicially reviewed This is not just about people being kind and giving them cups of tea.

DL Another job interview style question. How will you know that you have been successful? How will you measure success?

If a time came when I thought I could walk away from the work that I am doing and I could see that it was no longer hard for people to raise their issues. I don’t think that would happen for a long time. But if there was law centres and people doing the sort of work I have been engaging in over the years. I want to see more and more people doing that. Because the type of stuff I do is a very lonely existence. You sometimes feel you are banging your head off a brick wall and continually having to look south of the border for support and solidarity, to ask other lawyers for what you think I should do there.

I get a lot of young people asking me to become human rights lawyer. I say to them to study criminal law first. Because the most dispossessed, the most vulnerable people, those involved in drugs and crime are the ones who need human rights the most. Human rights are not just for “worthy” people.

DL You know you have been a success when you are not needed anymore?

That sounds pompous. No, but if I could see around me a lot of people doing the type of work I am doing where it was not turned away. A lot of stuff I do, people won’t take on. People say, ‘Och Aamer. But other people are welcome to the work. Why did they not take them on?

People out there are crying for help. But the system as it is rigged at the moment is that legal aid lawyers can’t help them because of austerity. 

I say 'Become a laywer'. It is one of the best jobs in the world if you do it right. It can give you total satisfaction. Somebody asks me at STUC black workers conference 'How do you keep going? You seem to lose.' If you win one out of 100 it is mind-blowing.HeraldScotland: Aamer Anwar said woman taunted him

Things have moved for the better. Yes, there is badness. But society is a helluva lot better. Which is why the bigots can’t handle it. Which is why the Neanderthals from the Tory party can’t handle it. Society has moved so far forward. That has taken the struggle of ordinary people. The Lawrences, the Chhokars. It is not like 1970s Liverpool where I grew up.