Academics dispute involvement in Government-backed race review

·4-min read

A growing number of authors and academics have challenged their “participation” in the heavily criticised Government-backed review on racial disparity.

The landmark report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) questioned the way the term “institutional racism” has been applied, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any “micro-aggression”.

At the top of the report’s Appendix D: Stakeholders list of organisations and individuals, the commission said it had “heard evidence from many during the course of its work” and “would like to thank the following for their participation”.

Among them is Sir John Bell, regius professor of medicine at the University of Oxford who, after seeing his name on the list, told the Telegraph: “Totally news to me. I never spoke to them… I did support this office and had a call with them, but that is not the report – it is different.”

Sir John Bell
Sir John Bell (Aaron Chown/PA)

The report also said the commission requested new research from sources, including Veena Raleigh and Shilpa Ross from the King’s Fund.

But the think tank said “that’s not strictly true”, clarifying that the work sent to the commission had already been carried out.

Author SI Martin, who is black, said he only discovered his name was in the appendix, under a sub-heading entitled “Academics and individuals”, on Thursday morning and claimed the commission had not contacted him.

Asked for his reaction, he told the PA news agency: “Initially, hilarity. Because of all of the names that could have appeared on that document attesting to its credibility, mine would have been the least.

“If they’d known the first thing about me I’d have been the last person chosen.”

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He said that “publicly and in writing, in every public arena, all of my ideas and sentiment are diametrically opposed to practically everything in that document”.

“Those who know me, those who know anything about me, would understand the ridiculousness of my name being associated with that,” he added.

It is understood that Mr Martin was named in error and will be removed from the acknowledgements.

Asked if he had had any contact from the commission, Mr Martin said: “No, absolutely not ever in any way, shape or form.”

Another author and historian took to Twitter on Thursday to highlight his “horror” at being named in the same section of the report, asking: “I wonder how many others were consulted without their knowledge?”

Stephen Bourne, who has written about black British history for 30 years, told PA he was contacted by recently departed No 10 adviser Samuel Kasumu last June and asked if he would take part in a meeting with other historians of black Britain.

He later accepted an invitation to Downing Street in October but this “didn’t say anything about a commission”.

“I knew nothing about this commission, knew nothing about a report, they didn’t even mention historians, but I just assumed that is what it would be,” he added.

Mr Bourne was subsequently asked to deliver a presentation to a group of people on Zoom, without being introduced to them.

He was later “gobsmacked” to learn of their commission roles after looking up their names online.

Mr Bourne said he contacted Mr Kasumu and “read him the riot act”, saying it was “unprofessional and discourteous” to lead him to believe he was attending a roundtable discussion when it was for the commission.

He said he had been “misled” and felt “very disappointed and very upset” that his name was “attached to a report as a stakeholder when I didn’t have anything to do with it and I don’t actually agree with the report”.

“The report is flawed and I’m not happy with the report,” he added.

A spokesperson for Cred said: “Stephen Bourne participated in a 10 Downing Street event for Black History Month, in which he made a valuable contribution about the curriculum which influenced the thinking of the commissioners on the subject.

“We thanked him as a courtesy.”

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