By: Pramod Thomas
EXPERTS claimed that officials at Downing Street had rewritten much of its controversial report into racial and ethnic disparities.
They alleged that significant sections of the report, published on 31 March, were not written by the 12 commissioners who were appointed last July, reported The Guardian.
The report was criticised and debunked by health professionals, academics, business chiefs and crime experts.
The 258-page document was not made available to be read in full or signed off by the group, which included scientist and BBC broadcaster Maggie Aderin-Pocock and Samir Shah, former chair of the Runnymede Trust, nor were they made aware of its 24 final recommendations.
Kunle Olulode, an anti-racism activist and director of the charity Voice4Change, is the first commissioner to condemn the government publicly for its lack of transparency.
One commissioner, who spoke out on condition of anonymity, accused the government of ‘bending’ the work of its commission to fit ‘a more palatable’ political narrative and denying the working group the autonomy it was promised.
The commissioner revealed that they had been privy only to the section of the report they were assigned, and that it had soon become apparent the exercise was not being taken sufficiently seriously by No 10, The Guardian added.
Commissioners also added that they were only given five months to do the work, which was not sufficient.
The report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) was not peer reviewed and was published just seven months after the group first met on a videocall.
The group, led by Tony Sewell, was set up by Samuel Kasumu, No 10’s most senior black special adviser, who resigned from his post on the day the report was published, aghast at its final findings.
There were accusations that Munira Mirza, director of No 10’s policy unit, was heavily involved in steering the direction of the supposedly independent report.
“I would reiterate the report is independent and that the government is committed to tackling inequality,” a No 10 spokesperson said.
While the prime minister sought to distance himself from the criticism a day after its publication, unusually it was his office rather than the Cred secretariat which initially released the report to the press, the newspaper report added.
“We reject these allegations. They are deliberately seeking to divert attention from the recommendations made in the report,” a spokesperson for the race commission told The Guardian.
“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.”