The Monitoring Group is challenging the appointment of Dr Sewell as the chair of Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (CRED). The central legal issue is whether or not the decision to appoint Sewell as the Chair of CRED is lawful.
We believe that Sewell’s long-standing record of public statements rejecting or minimising the existence of institutional racism in the criminal justice system or the impact of racism within the education system are incompatible with his appointment as the Chair of an independent commission.
WE HAVE A COMMITTED AND AN EXPERIENCED LEGAL TEAM TO HELP US:
Matthew Gold & Co Ltd, a leading civil rights firm is representing us. Senior Solicitor Chez Cotton is leading the team. Michael Etienne of No5 Chambers is Counsel & Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers will be the senior Counsel.
DR SEWELL’S APPOINTMENT RAISES SERIOUS PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Only a couple of months ago, Sewell was offering his views on issues raised by the killing of Mr George Floyd and the demonstrations organised in the UK in the name of Black Lives Matter for state accountability. In an interview published in The Telegraph on 8 June 2020, he records his opinion : ‘Naval gazing identity politics won’t help the black youth’’
Again on 12 June 2020, Sewell gave an interview to Talk Radio. In it he is critical of mass-protest movements and dismissive of concerns about institutional racism in policing. He goes on to say: “this thing is becoming completely irrational.” This was, at least in part, a criticism of the ongoing protests against racial inequality and suggested that there was “a bandwagon mentality” in taking umbrage/offence when there is no adequate reason to be offended.
In 2017 Column for The Sun, Sewell hit out at the then government’s race disparity audit, which laid bare the inequalities in society. “Too often we have statistics which are misused in a way which casts minorities as victims of racism and white privilege,” he wrote. “I believe it’s an attempt by the Tory party to shed its nasty party image and the prime minister [Theresa May] to place herself to the left of centre in her party.”
The acting director of the Runnymede Trust, Dr Zubaida Haque, has expressed concern about the appointment because Sewell has often minimized the impact of racism on African-Caribbean pupils, instead advocating for solutions to the problems with “youth culture” which was “anti-intellectual.
The Muslim Council of Britain published an official statement expressing profound concern that Dr Sewell’s appointment as Chair was indicative of a “culture war” in which racial disparities are being downplayed by the government and that Sewell is emblematic of a scepticism surrounding racial injustices within Government.
The fact that Sewell was moved to apologise for his discriminatory remarks about the LGBTQ+ community on day one of his tenure serves only to underline the point.
In his column in The Guardian, on 21 July 2020, Daryll Telles, a Black LBGTQ+ activist reiterated, “His history of making anti-gay comments should disqualify him from chairing the government’s new commission on race and ethnic disparities. Sewell trawled the depths of the sewer as a columnist on The Voice by denying the presence of LGBT people within the black community. This led to many activists like myself being specifically targeted for harassment and abuse – something which Sewell ignored for 30 years until last week, when his homophobic past caught up with him”.
“Are we seriously to believe that his views have changed? Why has it taken this long for him to own up to his errors? His abuse directly led to the isolation of the footballer Justin Fashanu when he came out, and the stigmatisation and rejection he felt from people who were supposedly allies within his own community.”
“As a friend of Justin’s, I implore the pro-LGBT MPs within parliament – including Damian Collins, who spoke up about homophobia in football – not to sit back and let Sewell’s appointment continue”.
Justin Fashanu was the first openly gay professional footballer in the UK and the world’s first £1m black footballer. He dies from suicide in 1998, aged 37.
WHAT IS THE NEXT STEP IN THIS CASE?
Our lawyers have sent a pre action letter warning the Prime Minister that his decision will be challenged in court through a Judicial Review.
HOW MUCH ARE WE RAISING AND WHY:
At this stage we need to raise £1,000 to help fund some of the initial legal costs involved in preparing the case.
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The Monitoring Group Collective.