Downing Street has accused the United Nations of "misrepresenting" the findings of Boris Johnson’s racial disparities commission after a group of its experts claimed the review was an "attempt to normalise white supremacy".
The Prime Minister’s spokesman hit back at the claims, which were made by the UN’s working group of experts on people of African descent, insisting that the report "in no way condones racist behaviour".
His comments were echoed by a commission spokesman, who said the UN group had "grossly" skewed the report's findings and failed to engage with the "substance of its content".
It came after the group, which is attached to the UN Human Rights Council, said it "rejects and condemns" the findings of the commission, set up by Boris Johnson last year, which concluded that the UK had made major strides over the past 50 years on equality.
Kemi Badenoch, the equalities minister, will tomorrow appear in the Commons to push back against "misrepresentations" made about the report and to address the personal abuse received by commissioners in recent weeks.
The Telegraph understands that she will highlight that death threats have been made against several members and will challenge some of the criticisms levelled by Labour MPs and a number of equality organisations.
The report, which was published in March and headed by the education consultant Tony Sewell, said that while there are still clear examples of racism in Britain, it was no longer a system "deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities".
Mr Sewell has since pushed back against criticism of the report, including over its claim that there is a need to tell a "new story about the Caribbean experience" which did not focus solely on the slave trade.
He has described the suggestion that the report was attempting to "downplay the evil" of the slave trade as "absurd as it is offensive".
Yesterday, Mr Sewell also wrote a formal letter of complaint about a Labour MP to Kathryn Stone, the parliamentary commissioner for standards in the House of Commons.
Mr Sewell said that a tweet about his report sent by Clive Lewis, the Labour MP for Norwich South and former frontbencher under Jeremy Corbyn, was "disturbing", "extremely offensive" and should be taken down.
The tweet showed an image of a member of the Klu Klux Klan standing by a fire with his arm out and was captioned: "Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport."
In his letter, seen by The Telegraph, Mr Sewell said the commission believed Mr Lewis had failed to live up to the standards expected of MPs, adding: "We consider an apology is due from Mr Lewis, and that he should be requested to take the offending tweet down."
Mr Lewis did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, 13 Conservative MPs led by Sir John Hayes have also written to the charity regulator to complain about the Runnymede Trust over its criticism of the commission’s report.
In their letter, the MPs allege that the Trust’s criticism amounted to "political activity which risks compromising their statutory duties to avoid overtly politicised campaigning". It also cited other examples where it claimed that its conduct had breached charity guidelines.
Last night the Trust said it regretted the "adversarial trend" of politicians complaining against charities "whose work they contest", before repeating its claim that the commission’s report was "entirely discredited".
In a statement issued yesterday, the UN working group claimed that the review had perpetuated a "mythical representation of enslavement" and was "an attempt to sanitise the history of the trade in enslaved Africans".
It continued: "The report cites dubious evidence to make claims that rationalise white supremacy by using the familiar arguments that have always justified racial hierarchy.
"This attempt to normalise white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward."
Asked about its comments, the Prime Minister’s spokesman told reporters: "Our view is that this report misrepresents the findings [of the commission]. We remain proud of the UK’s long history as a human rights champion.
"This report in no way condones racist behaviour and in it fact highlights that racism and inequality are still problems for our country."
A spokesman for the commission said: "We are disappointed that the working group has grossly misrepresented the report's findings, and appears to be a response to negative press coverage rather than the substance of its content.
"The misleading claims they have made risk fostering division on the subject of race, rather than constructive discussion on the issues."