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A Canary Article trumpets that, “Chris Williamson is going to take legal action against the EHRC;” is this a long overdue fanfare of change as we launch the fight-back against toxic disinformation? The corruption of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission EHRC, represents a sorry example of the worst kind of ‘mission creep in the subversion of our democratic checks and balances. The organizations and so called ‘watchdogs’ that we currently rely on to adjudicate, providing fairness and exposing corruption, are themselves becoming corrupted by obvious conflict of interest appointment to stack the deck against protecting the public and delivering just decisions. What Williamson has chosen to do is a vital component of exposing and reversing this downward slide towards a totalitarian state by challenging the EHRC in Court while this is still an option. Once this corrupt Tory Government gains control over our Judiciary and ends all future Judicial Review then the UK enters the final stage of establishing full Dictatorship.
You could dress a tiger in a tutu, but it would remain a savage beast! The gradual takeover of all our regulatory bodies with Tory compliant yes-men leaves the shallow façade of a democratic process in place while critically disabling its impartiality and with that the entire legitimacy of its essential function in a fair society and its ultimate purpose for existence. EHRC is touted as representing the fair arbiter of Equalities and Human Rights in the UK; an impressive ‘tutu’ for the tiger preparing to rip the heart out of the valid Socialist opposition that has audaciously challenged the absolute power of this far-right Tory Government. A fully representative Ethnic mix should be an essential component of the makeup of EHRC for their decision making to realistically reflect the ‘Equality’ they claim to represent. Similarly any obvious political affiliations of its serving member represent a clear conflict of interest that renders genuine impartiality unlikely and delegitimizes not only their reports, but selection of who they are prepared to investigate.
The Canary report that, “Chris Williamson, former Labour MP for Derby North, says he’s named in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into antisemitism in the Labour Party. On 29 July, Williamson said he plans to ‘take on’ the EHRC.” Labelling it a “Smear campaign,” the Canary elaborate on the background of the EHRC Report saying, “In May 2019, the EHRC launched an investigation to determine whether the Labour Party had “unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish”. Williamson will have received a copy of the draft Report to review for his rebuttal; he obviously believes he has a strong case for claiming defamation that will be provable in a Court case. According to the Canary, “In a press release, Williamson said the report was ‘circulated to those it had named earlier this month’. The investigation has now finished and a report of its findings is due later this year. At this stage, details in the draft report remain confidential.”
“Williamson has assembled a legal team to challenge his inclusion in the draft report. He’s also set up a crowdfunder to raise £10,000 to cover legal costs” to which you can donate funds. The Canary report that, “Speaking about his decision to take legal action against the EHRC, Williamson said: I know that I can rely on the support and solidarity of thousands of people in taking on the EHRC. Many people are alarmed at the way in which this supposedly impartial body is operating. In my view, the EHRC’s conduct has played a leading role in legitimising a McCarthyite smear campaign against the British Left, and was instrumental in the attempts to derail Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership. It seems pretty clear that the EHRC lacks independence from the government and has been abusing its legal mandate by attacking the Official Opposition.” EHRC claim to “operates independently,” they also state that: “We use our unique powers to challenge discrimination, promote equality of opportunity and protect human rights.”
In, “Equalities body accused of targeting BAME staff for redundancies” a Guardian Article published more than three years ago, the critical damage being wrought on the legitimacy of this organization was readily apparent, but no action was taken and EHRC has corrupted further. The Tories used ideologically driven austerity as a scythe to deliver strategic cuts that targeted minorities for severance effectively eviscerated the diverse mix of voices and opinions within EHRC. How seriously was the EHRC budget slashed? The Guardian reported that, “According to the National Audit Office, the EHRC’s budget has been cut by almost 70% since it was created. Its current budget will be cut by a further 25% over the next four years.” This permitted a certain level of deniability for the defenestrations with the organization able to claim that cuts were inevitable. Claims of ‘fiscal responsibility’ have been used as an excuse across a slew of Government Departments and Regulatory Agencies to pursue the Tory agenda.
The Guardian reported that, “Britain’s equality watchdog has been accused by prominent race campaigners of unfairly targeting black and minority ethnic employees for compulsory redundancies. The Equalities and Human Rights Commission received a letter on Friday claiming that its ‘credibility, authority and legitimacy’ within black and Asian communities have been damaged by a new cuts programme. It follows a decision by the statutory body to select 12 staff for compulsory redundancies. It is claimed only two of those were white British, while eight were from a BAME background, four of whom were Muslim, and six were disabled. Seven of the 12 were informed of the decision by email last month, according to the letter. The ECHR has rejected this claim, and pledged to increase the number of ‘underrepresented groups’ in senior positions in the commission.” Have they managed to follow through with that pledge in the past three years? It certainly does not appear that they have.
What did that crucial letter say? According to the Guardian, “The letter sent to David Isaac, the EHRC’s chair, claimed there were no visible minorities among the senior management team after the only black director was selected for redundancy, while all but two remaining BAME workers were on the lowest three pay grades. “In our opinion, it is not satisfactory or acceptable simply to say the percentage of BAME workers reflects the percentage in the national population and especially not with main offices in London and Manchester,” the letter said. “But this is not just about numbers: the personal experiences and viewpoints, which a diverse workforce brings, are essential if the commission is to challenge the majority or mainstream beliefs. “In a climate of rising levels of racist and Islamophobic attacks and where the majority opinion in GB seems to be anti-immigrant, anti-black and anti-Muslim, then it is even more important that the commission’s staff can stand firm against prevailing views.”
Among the signatories the Guardian identified, “Lord Ouseley, the cross-bench peer who headed the now defunct Commission for Racial Equality, is among 14 signatories to the letter from established academics and campaigners. Other signatories of the letter include Prof Gargi Bhattacharyya of the University of East London, Hanef Bhamjee from Action for Southern Africa, and Peter Herbert from the Society of Black Lawyers. Operation Black Vote and the GMB Regional Equality Forum also signed.” The Guardian notes that, “They said they were appalled by the way the employees were made redundant on 9 February amid planned industrial action by the PCS and Unite unions, and asked to meet with Isaac. “Sadly, we now have serious doubts about the commission’s credibility, authority and legitimacy with our communities,” the letter concluded.
The EHCR was established in 2007 to help eliminate discrimination, reduce inequality and protect human rights in the UK after the amalgamation of existing statutory bodies including the Commission for Racial Equality. An EHRC spokesperson denied that those let go were informed by email and claimed there was a lengthy process of engagement before their departure. Then there was that handy Tory austerity card deniability as he claimed, “Like the rest of the public sector, our budget has been reduced.” In 2017 there were pledges of future efforts to be more inclusive, but what of that crucial Tory pledge? The current EHRC board are so true blue Tory I felt rinsed! How surprised I was to discover that the Chair and Commissioners are public appointments made by the Minister for Women and Equalities. This predominantly Tory Government compliant EHRC do not appear to have addressed their dearth of diversity in a commission set up to address important issues of inequality: as such, it must be exposed as truly not fit for purpose.
I was really curious to find out whether they had met that diversity pledge so I did some digging? Sadly, in the whole of the UK they couldn’t manage to find a single person with relevant talent and expertise to represent the Afro-Caribbean community on the EHRC! That is unacceptable. The current EHRC remains overwhelmingly, snow blindingly, white with the solitary exception of Pavita Cooper who is of Asian descent, but well on-side with a declared donation to the Tory Party. While the Jewish community are strongly represented by Rebecca Hilsenrath as Chief Executive of EHCR, and Commissioner, Mark McClain, is from the LGBT community, I could not find a single disabled person on the panel and the only member who showed the slightest hint they might support the Labour Party or Unions was former Fire Fighter Susan Johnson. From their own Bio and registry of interests they are heavily representative of the wealthy elite with multiple Non-Executive Board memberships and Stakeholder declarations.
Serious systemic problems within the EHRC are surfacing elsewhere. In the Skwawkbox Article, “Former EHRC black and Muslim directors say they lost their jobs for being ‘too loud’ about racism” they highlight, “Another Newsweek exclusive puts EHRC’s fitness under spotlight after also revealing donations to Tory party. EHRC now has no black or Muslim directors.” This was “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,” as highlighted in another Skwawkbox Article on EHCR. Skwawkbox note that, “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.”
Skwawkbox report that, “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.”
Skwawkbox revealed that according to Newsweek, “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.” Of deep frustration to the Muslim community is the rampant Islamaphobia within the Tory Party, they say that, “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.”
Skwawkbox report that, “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.” This coalescing of solidarity could not come at a more opportune moment as Corbyn is now in the crosshairs, but preparing for the fray with a Fund of £323,000!
The Canary article reported that, “In 2019, BBC Newsnight shared details of a letter that raised concerns about EHRC chair David Isaac. The letter, sent by chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath, questioned EHRC independence from government. According to Newsnight, it said: David [Isaac] regularly declines to take public positions… Recent examples include the publication of a piece of research into the implications of losing access to EU structural funds, and the stripping of Shamima Begum’s citizenship.” They note that, “Hilsenrath’s criticisms don’t seem politically motivated and she previously criticised Labour’s handling of antisemitism. In response, the EHRC said it took ‘impartiality and independence very seriously’ and that: Our investigation into the Labour Party has robust procedures in place to ensure its impartiality and anyone with a conflict, or perceived conflict of interest, plays no part.” They report that “further questions have emerged about EHRC independence and impartiality.”
The Canary comment on June 2019, Newsweek revelations of Pavita Cooper failure to “declare her donation and fundraising activity for the Conservative Party”. They also say that, “In May, the EHRC refused to investigate Islamophobia in the Conservative Party despite receiving a number of complaints. Meanwhile, the investigation into antisemitism allegations in Labour continued.” On 28 July, a Newsweek exclusive had revealed the complaints of the two former EHRC commissioners who were not reappointed due to their outspokenness on issues of race. They note that, “Baroness Meral Hussein-Ece, who at the time was the only Muslim commissioner and Lord Simon Woolley who was the only black commissioner, both lost their positions in November 2012. There are currently no Black or Muslim board members. Newsweek also reported that Hussein-Ece said: “I don’t think islamophobia or anti-Muslim hate is taken seriously” and called for the EHRC to do more.
In a press release, Williamson said: “Far from being an ‘equalities watchdog’, I’d say that the EHRC has become a right-wing attack dog. It must be urgently disbanded.” The Canary call for ‘Solidarity’ as an earlier Canary Article reported that, “there are serious questions over the way allegations of antisemitism against Williamson were handled. In 2019, he successfully crowdfunded over £63,000 to bring a legal challenge against the Labour Party in the High Court. After winning back legal costs, he established a Left Legal Fighting Fund to ‘assist other activists who have been maliciously smeared and harassed’. It’s also now providing legal support to Black Lives Matter protesters. If the new crowdfunder meets its goal, any recovered costs from the legal action and unused funds will be donated to the Left Legal Fighting Fund to help other activists. Meanwhile, as attacks continue against Jeremy Corbyn and left-wing activists, solidarity is now more important than ever.” BLM protesters should be justifiably outraged by EHRC!
Many of our public ‘Watchdogs’ have been totally neutered, stripped of all their powers due to a steady stream of seemingly minor regulatory changes purportedly to eliminate so called ‘unnecessary red tape.’ The regulatory constraints, mandatory inspections with Health and Safety checks that could have prevented the Grenfell Tower tragedy are but one appalling example of reducing the burden on free marketers to profit from contributing to human misery. The Electoral Commission, supposedly overseeing our once free and fair Elections, represents another glaring example of a purposely toothless agency denuded of its powers by Government policy designed to deliberately reduce its effectiveness in providing scrutiny. “A Watchdog that cannot watch is just a dog” which is why we must “Rescue our Watchdog,” hence my Petition to fully investigate the Covert 2019 Rigged Election. In Court both Corbyn and Williamson stand a chance to expose the truth re Tory propaganda, a challenge that could bring down this Tory Government! DO NOT MOVE ON!