A Birmingham lawyer has accused a leading lobby group of losing interest in the cause of black and Asian professionals.

Andrew Sparrow says Birmingham Forward is failing to get behind the push in the way it should.

And he is hinting that the blame lies with chief executive Richard Brennan and chairman Diane Benussi.

They deny the claims and say Birmingham Forward is fully behind the cause.

Mr Sparrow said the setback had come at a time when it was imperative "to focus on the rewards of cultural integration given the current climate of misinterpretation".

He claims the leadership of Birmingham Forward has not done enough to support the aims of Birmingham Professional Divercity, of which he is a director.

The organisation, headed by Aaron Reid, was formed by Birmingham Forward to progress issues around diversity so that professional businesses in the city could improve recruitment and retention to meet the rapidly changing cultural demographics.

Mr Sparrow said: "Birmingham is leading nationally with this work and it is absolutely vital to the success of many professional firms in the future.

"Birmingham Professional Divercity has shown itself to be hugely beneficial in its work and boasts some of the finest consultants in the country and a board determined to drive this issue in a sensitive manner. It is performing very well but in my view the group which is central to its ongoing remit has not given adequate support in the past year.

"It is a situation which cannot continue. I am certain that Birmingham Forward members recognise the value in the role of Divercity and are clearly supportive. However, Birmingham Forward must honour its commitment to the group - it has been lacklustre in its relations in recent times.

"I don't believe the full board of Birmingham Forward have taken a strategic decision to roll back the essential progress made since Divercity was formed. Nor is it the team at the Forward office. The conclusion is that its leader-ship has not given sufficient impetus to this issue.

"Birmingham Forward must make its priorities known.

"This is about actions, proper assistance with making connection with Forward's membership, and working closely on events which Diver-city runs.

"I don't feel this is happening and a few individuals must not jeopardise the success of a group which is increasingly recognised nationally for its ground breaking work.

"We should be proud that Birmingham is setting the standard on understanding the future make up of professional firms. If you are a young professional thinking about where to practice for example as a surveyor or lawyer I think the fact that Birmingham has earned a reputation by its actions of 'come to this city and you'll be valued and given every opportunity to work in a manner which isn't at variance with your cultural integrity' is a badge of honour.

"The Divercity group is making that aim a reality. It's very disappointing to be swimming against the tide in our relationship with the organisation whose membership we must engage with."

He continued: "Amid all the stories of division in recent months the role of Divercity is of prime importance because the group's very existence ensures the measured communication of the genuine nuances of approach which people from varied backgrounds bring to their professional work."

A statement from Birmingham Forward said: "Contrary to suggestions made with regard to the lack of support given to Birmingham Diver-City by Birmingham Forward - both organisations jointly reject this claim. As cofounders of Birmingham Professional DiverCity, the board and executive of Birmingham Forward fully support the excellent work being done by Aaron Reid and his team.

"Since his appointment as chief executive of Birmingham Forward, Richard Brennan has taken a board seat at Professional DiverCity and has been active in advising the team at DiverCity.

"In line with her chairman's agenda, Diane Benussi has ensured that both organisations develop a series of events to keep the critical DiverCity messages at the forefront of the minds of Birmingham Forward members. This has included two joint events held within the past two months.

"Aaron Reid is an active member of Birmingham Future and sits on their diversity committee."