‘Champion of the ignored’ Nazir Afzal OBE given honorary doctorate
Campaigning lawyer honoured by the University of Bradford urges students to step outside their comfort zones
The award is in recognition of his contribution to equality and diversity, both through his career as a highly respected lawyer and his personal endeavours to actively challenge cultural and community perceptions.
Nazir said: “I’m absolutely delighted, it’s an immense privilege to receive this, particularly from a university which I have always valued and which has an international reputation. I want to congratulate the students and graduates who have been extraordinary in excelling during these most difficult of times. Thank you for the contribution you will make to this country going forward.
“It’s important you make relationships, make friends and find allies. I never stayed in my comfort zone. I always pushed myself to go to places which were, quite frankly, scary. It’s important you push yourself and not stay in your comfort zone. Finally, I have learned from tough experience that people will try to define you unless you define yourself. The only ceiling to your achievement is the one you create in your own head.”
During a 24-year career, he has prosecuted some of the most high-profile cases in the country and led nationally on several legal topics including violence against women and girls, child sexual abuse, and honour-based violence.
His prosecutions of the so-called Rochdale grooming gang, BBC presenter Stuart Hall, and hundreds of others were groundbreaking and drove the work that has changed the landscape of child protection.
He has been a progressive voice within the British Islamic community, calling for change on issues like honour-based violence and sex education. A father of a daughter and three sons, he has throughout his career fought for equality. Since October 2017, he has been a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (IPSO) Complaints Committee. He is also National Adviser on Gender Based Violence to the Welsh Government. He was Chief Executive of the country’s Police & Crime Commissioners. Most recently he joined the advisory board of Google’s Innovation Fund for counter-extremism.
Earlier this year, he published The Prosecutor: One Man’s Pursuit of Justice for the Voiceless, described as a “searing insight into the justice system”.