Another Newsweek exclusive puts EHRC’s fitness under spotlight after also revealing donations to Tory party. EHRC now has no black or Muslim directors
Just a month after its revelations that an Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) director made donations to the Tory party that she failed to declare when she was appointed, Newsweek has broken another exclusive that the organisation’s only black and Muslim directors say their appointments were not renewed because they were “too loud and vocal” about race issues.
LibDem peer Meral Hussain-Ece and ‘crossbench’ peer Simon Woolley lost their government-appointed positions in 2012. Woolley told Newsweek:
We were too loud… Our job as commissioners was to do exactly what they were supposed to do, to raise the fundamental issues of tackling race inequality in education, in health, in employment, within the criminal justice system and I saw that as my central role, but it was made very quickly aware to me that that strong voice was not wanted.
They [the government] didn’t want the voices that challenge the big structural inequalities, which of course is the raison d’être of the commission, and then to work out plans to use its powers to demand change.
The commission should not be a space for a chit-chat, this is perhaps one of the only bodies that we have in our country to hold our big institutions to account when it comes to racial injustice.”
Hussein-Ece voiced a similar view:
We were the ones who spoke more about race. Race equality generally was put on the back burner…
We were told to apply for the next term because it’s a four-year term, our performance was deemed good, and that we should reapply. When we did reapply, we were told we weren’t even shortlisted.
The EHRC has persistently refused to investigate the Conservative party for racism and islamophobia, in spite of repeated requests by the Muslim Council of Britain and an abundance of evidence. The Tories have reduced the EHRC’s budget from its 2007 level of £70m to just £17.4m today.
Sir Geoffrey Bindman, former legal adviser to the EHRC’s predecessor the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), also features in the Newsweek article as a voice criticising the organisation and the government’s handling of it. Bindman, who is Jewish, has recently joined the board of http://www.truthdefence.org, an organisation that describes itself as:
a collective of activists, lawyers, creatives, journalists, academics and citizens concerned about the spread of disinformation online, in traditional media, and in political advertising and campaigning.
We are equally concerned by cases where civil litigation procedures and the principles of natural justice are apparently undermined for politically motivated purposes.
Truth Defence has already been vocal in highlighting problems in the media and political treatment of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and has welcomed Jane Heybroek’s stunning victory in court over accusers Rachel Riley and Tracy-Ann Oberman, so the presence of a leading human rights QC and former CRE counsel on its board is highly significant.
The EHRC currently has no black or Muslim directors. The government’s Equality Office did not respond to Newsweek‘s requests for comment.
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