Authors of controversial race report demand parliamentary probe into MP who appeared to compare them to the Ku Klux Klan
- Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities found no ‘institutional racism’
- Group said the term shouldn’t be used as ‘catch-all’ phrase for micro-aggression
- Labour MP Clive Lewis reacted to report by tweeting a photo of a KKK member
The authors of a controversial report into racism last night demanded a parliamentary probe into an MP who appeared to compare them to the Ku Klux Klan.
Last month the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities said it found no evidence of ‘institutional racism’ and criticised the way the term was applied, saying it should not be used as a ‘catch-all’ phrase for any micro-aggression.
Labour MP Clive Lewis reacted to the report by tweeting a photo of a KKK member in front of a burning cross with the caption: ‘Move along. Nothing to see here #RaceReport.’
Commission chairman Dr Tony Sewell said the UK had progressed into a ‘successful multi-ethnic and multicultural community’ which was a ‘beacon to the rest of Europe and the world’. Labour MP Clive Lewis reacted to the report by tweeting a photo of a KKK member in front of a burning cross with the caption: ‘Move along. Nothing to see here #RaceReport’
Last night the commission’s chairman, Dr Tony Sewell, wrote to the parliamentary commissioner for standards calling the post ‘malicious’ and claimed it contributed to online racial abuse against members of the board.
The complaint came as United Nations human rights experts accused the authors of the review of attempting to ‘normalise white supremacy’.
The UN working group of experts on people of African descent said it ‘categorically rejects and condemns’ the findings of the report, and demanded that the British government dismisses it.
The government-commissioned review said racism is a ‘real force’ but added that Britain is no longer a country where the ‘system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities’.
Thousands of people break lockdown regulations during a Black Lives Matter protest in central London, June 2020
Mr Lewis said he was not attempting to compare the authors to the KKK with his tweet. The Norwich South MP tweeted afterwards: ‘To be crystal clear this image represents structural racism. Just so we’re clear.’ But in his letter to standards commissioner Kathryn Stone, Dr Sewell said: ‘This disturbing and distasteful post was extremely offensive to all of us on the commission.
‘It was a shocking and wholly reprehensible reaction to our report, which puts forward an evidence-based argument for causes and drivers of some of the disparities that exist for people from all races and ethnicities in the UK.’
Dr Sewell said the follow-up comment by Mr Lewis was a ‘feeble attempt to cover up the malicious intent behind his first post’.
‘Noting the number of followers Mr Lewis has on his Twitter account, we consider it contributed to the unacceptable flow of online racial abuse that commission members experienced following publication,’ he said.
‘As a parliamentarian Mr Lewis is expected to behave responsibly… in our view he has clearly failed to do so here.’
Dr Sewell said the commission wants an apology from Mr Lewis and that his tweet be taken down. Mr Lewis did not respond to requests for comment last night, but earlier this month he rejected criticisms of his tweet.
‘The commission and the Government need a laser-like focus on rectifying this huge setback of a report,’ he said. ‘Instead they’re playing the victim and looking to distract.’
Meanwhile, the UN experts called for the commission to be ‘disbanded or reconstituted’.
The working group said the report ‘repackages racist tropes and stereotypes into fact’ and ‘cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy’.
So who are the distinguished panel of experts who produced landmark race report and now stand accused of ‘ignoring realities of racism in Britain’?
Champion of underdogs
Dr Tony Sewell CBE, 62
No one is better qualified to speak on education and the black community than Sewell. Born in Brixton in 1959 to Jamaican parents of the Windrush generation, he studied English literature at Essex University before becoming a teacher in some of London’s toughest secondary schools.
He was part of the team which opened Mossbourne Community Academy in 2004 on the site of Hackney Downs School, which was described as the ‘worst school in Britain’.
In 2011/12 Mossbourne achieved the distinction of getting seven per cent of its leavers into Oxford or Cambridge universities.
No one is better qualified to speak on education and the black community than Dr Tony Sewell
Sewell went on to found Generating Genius, a charity which helps children from minority ethnic backgrounds study and follow careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.
Police gangs reformer
Keith Fraser, 54
The former police superintendent and chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of racism.
Born to Jamaican parents — a bus driver and a secretary — in Birmingham in the 1960s, he has recalled being stopped and searched frequently as a teenager.
He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1985 aged 18, but was still stopped by fellow officers when driving off-duty.
Keith Fraser, 54, the former police superintendent and chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of racism
Over his 32 years of police service, Fraser rose to become a Superintendent in the West Midlands force, before becoming the first black chairman of the Youth Justice Board and chairman of Employability UK.
He developed West Midlands Police strategy on deterring young people from joining gangs.
Aftab Chughtai MBE, 62
Unlike many academics who pontificate on racial issues, Chughtai has experience of running a business in the heart of one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities.
Born to Kashmiri parents, Chughtai took over running the family’s babywear shop in Birmingham, and now sits on the board of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce.
He is also chair of the West Midlands Police Independent Advisory Group, a trustee of Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust, and was a co-founder of the campaign group Muslims for Britain, which engages with British Muslims on key national issues.
Unlike many academics who pontificate on racial issues, Aftab Chughtai MBE, 62, has experience of running a business in the heart of one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities
In 2017, he was appointed to the Grenfell Tower taskforce, charged with scrutinising Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council’s efforts to help the community recover from the tragedy.
Mercy Muroki, 25
Born in Kenya, Muroki attended a school with no electricity and a pit latrine for a toilet. Aged five, she arrived in West London with her parents and sister.
Shortly after, her parents split — and her mother and the two children were homeless for a period.
Muroki became a mother herself, aged 18, but went on to read politics at Queen Mary University of London and study for a MSc at Oxford, where she won several academic prizes.
Born in Kenya, Mercy Muroki, 25, attended a school with no electricity and a pit latrine for a toilet. Aged five, she arrived in West London with her parents and sister
She became a senior researcher at the Centre for Social Justice, and is also a national newspaper columnist.
Race equality leader
Dr Samir Shah CBE, 78
Born in India, Dr Shah came to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School in West London, before reading geography and maths at the University of Hull. He has a DPhil from St Catherine’s College, Oxford.
He began his career at London Weekend Television in 1979, before moving to the BBC, where he held senior positions overseeing political journalism.
Now CEO of his own TV and radio production company, Dr Shah was awarded a CBE in 2019 for services to Television and Heritage.
Born in India, Dr Samir Shah CBE, 78, came to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School in West London, before reading geography and maths at the University of Hull. He has a DPhil from St Catherine’s College, Oxford
He has served as chair of the V&A and as a visiting professor of creative media at Oxford University.
He is also member of the Nuffield Foundation Steering Group, working on reviews into inequality.
He was chairman of the race equality think-tank the Runnymede Trust — which said yesterday it felt ‘let down’ by yesterday’s report — for two decades and has been a member of the Holocaust Commission.
Lord Kakkar, 56
Ajay Kakkar is a prime example of the success many families of Indian origin have enjoyed in supposedly racist Britain.
He followed his father into medicine, studying at King’s College, London, followed by a PhD at Imperial College. He is now Professor of Surgery at University College, London.
He is the director of the Thrombosis Research Institute, and has worked with the NHS on its strategy to prevent dangerous blood clotting.
Lord Kakkar, 56, is a prime example of the success many families of Indian origin have enjoyed in supposedly racist Britain
He was made a life peer in 2010 before being appointed as a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council in 2014. He serves as Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission.
Lord Kakkar chairs medical research charity the King’s Fund, sits as a school governor and is also a commissioner of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.
TV space scientist
Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, 53
Born and brought up in London, Aderin-Pocock moved between 13 schools, struggling with dyslexia, to eventually win a place to read physics at Imperial College London.
She completed a PhD in mechanical engineering, in the course of which she developed a novel instrument to measure materials just microns thick — a device which was later marketed commercially by the university.
Born and brought up in London, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, 53, moved between 13 schools, struggling with dyslexia, to eventually win a place at Imperial College London
Now a distinguished space scientist, she has presented the BBC’s Sky At Night for the past eight years.
Much of her time is devoted to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists, and visiting inner-city schools to tell their students how she became a scientist — busting myths about careers, class and gender in the process.
School Governance Expert
Naureen Khalid, 59
From a British Pakistani background, Khalid achieved a Masters in Genetics at Karachi University, and later a MPhil at the University of East Anglia.
She is now an educational specialist who has sat for more than a decade on the governing boards of several schools and academies.
She also serves as an expert for National Online Safety, an organisation which helps to protect children online by providing safety training to schools.
From a British Pakistani background, Naureen Khalid, 59, achieved a Masters in Genetics at Karachi University, and later a MPhil at the University of East Anglia
She presents at education events, and has co-founded a national forum which helps support school governors and provides them with a space to exchange ideas and experiences.
Globally feted academic
Dambisa Moyo, 52
Moyo was born in Lusaka, Zambia, but spent some of her childhood in the U.S. She took a chemistry degree at the University of Zambia, followed by a DPhil in economics at Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard.
She worked at Goldman Sachs as a research economist for seven years, advising developing countries on international finances, and served as head of Economic Research and Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa.
Moyo has sat on the boards of brewing company SABMiller, Barclays Bank, Barrick Gold and U.S. oil giant Chevron.
Dambisa Moyo, 52, was born in Lusaka, Zambia, but spent some of her childhood in the U.S. She took a chemistry degree at the University of Zambia, followed by a DPhil in economics at Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard
She has published many books, with her 2009 work Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa, becoming a bestseller — while upsetting those on the Left who believe that ever-increasing quantities of aid is the best way to help the developing world.
In 2009 she was named as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world.
Martyn Oliver, 49
The only white member of the commission, Oliver started teaching in 1995 and went on to become chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, which oversees 34 academies in the North, many of which were failing schools when the trust took them over.
The only white member of the commission, Martyn Oliver, 49, started teaching in 1995 and went on to become chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust
Oliver serves as a board member of the Department for Education’s Opportunity North-East, which aims to improve results in secondary schools in that region.
Kunle Olulode, 59
Olulode, is a former trade union activist on Camden Council who led the 500-strong Camden black workers’ staff group.
He has also served as a board member of English Heritage and is director of Voice4Change, which represents charities working with ethnic minorities.
Blondel Cluff, 60Cluff’s parents arrived in Britain from Anguilla with the Windrush generation. A lawyer and former head of legal at Lazard Brothers (a financial and asset management firm), Cluff is a fellow of King’s College London, and has also served as a diplomat.
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