Government’s race report was ‘rewritten’ by Downing Street officials, experts claim

Leah Sinclair
·4-min read
The door to 10 Downing Street (PA Wire)
The door to 10 Downing Street (PA Wire)

Downing Street officials have been accused of rewriting much of the Race and Ethnic disparities’ report, despite electing an independent commission to conduct an investigation into racial inequality in the UK.

The landmark review, which was published last month by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, was widely criticised after it found no evidence of “institutional racism”.

According to The Observer, significant sections of the report were not written by the 12 commissioners who were appointed by Boris Johnson last July.

The 258-page document was allegedly not made available to be read in full or signed off by the group, nor were they made aware of its 24 final recommendations.

Instead, it’s alleged that the finished report was produced by No 10.

Kunle Olulode, an anti-racism activist and director of the charity Voice4Change, said: “The report does not give enough to show its understanding of institutional or structural discrimination,” he said.

“The report gives no clear direction on what expectations of the role of public institutions and political leadership should be in tackling race and ethnic disparities. What is the role of the state in this?”

One anonymous commissioner accused the government of “bending” the work of its commission to fit “a more palatable” political narrative.

“The idea that this report was all our own work is full of holes,” they claimed.

“You can see that in the inconsistency of the ideas and data it presents and the conclusions it makes. That end product is the work of very different views.”

The commissioner said that they had been privy only to the section of the report they were assigned and that not much time was given to “something of this magnitude”.

A source involved in the commission told the publication that “basic fundamentals in putting a document like this together were ignored.”

“When you’re producing something so historic, you have to avoid unnecessary controversy, you don’t court it like this report did. And the comms was just shocking.”

The prime minister revealed the members of the commission last June, in response to a wave of Black Lives Matter protests, following the death of George Floyd while in police custody in the US.

The commission, chaired by Dr Tony Sewell, is comprised of representatives from the fields of science, education, broadcasting, economics, medicine, policing and community organising.

After the report was published on March 31, Samuel Kasumu, No 10’s most senior black special adviser, resigned from his post.

Lord Simon Woolley, who ran the Government’s race disparity unit under Theresa May, told Times Radio the report was “grubby” and “divisive”.

“It throws black, Asian, minority ethnic communities’ individual lived experience under the bus by its complete denial of anything systemic about the inequalities many people face,” he said.

“The idea that something good came out of the enslavement of Africans is frankly abhorrent.”

Some critics, including a group of prominent Windrush campaigners, urged Dr Tony Sewell to abandon his recent race commission report.

In a five-page letter, over 100 signatories, including former deputy London mayor Lee Jasper, Patrick Vernon OBE, and survivors of the Windrush scandal, have accused the report of “ignoring” the wrongs committed by the Home Office.

In a letter seen by the Independent, it reads: “Your report is a dreadful attempt to rewrite history and denigrate it to a footnote. You are effectively denying the true experiences and existences of black people so that the annals of history will once again favour the oppressors.”

In response to the criticism, the commission shared a statement earlier this month.

They said: “This is a wide ranging report, and we hope it will lead to further research and better understanding of the complex causes of inequalities in the UK.

“Our terms of reference were ambitious and, despite the disruption of COVID-19, we addressed them by drawing upon a wide range of sources and evidence, as well as the lived experience of people, including our own.”

Of the allegations, a spokesperson for the commission told the Standard: “We reject these allegations. They are deliberately seeking to divert attention from the recommendations made in the Report.

“The Commission’s view is that, if implemented, these 24 recommendations can change for the better the lives of millions across the UK, whatever their ethnic or social background. That is the goal they continue to remain focused on.”

The Cabinet Office has been approached for comment.

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