Equality and Human Rights Commission

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Group.png EHRC  Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
EHRC.jpg
AbbreviationEHRC
Predecessor• Commission for Racial Equality
• Equal Opportunities Commission
• Disability Rights Commission
Formation1 October 2007
Leaders• Equality and Human Rights Commission/Chair
• Equality and Human Rights Commission/CEO
Interestsequality, human rights
SubpageEquality and Human Rights Commission/Chair
Membership• David Isaac
• Caroline Waters
• Suzanne Baxter
• Pavita Cooper
• Alasdair Henderson
• Rebecca Hilsenrath
• Susan Johnson
• Helen Mahy
• June Milligan
• Mark McLane
• Lesley Sawers
• Swaran Singh

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) is a non-departmental public body in England and Wales, established by the Equality Act 2006 with effect from 1 October 2007. The EHRC has responsibility for the promotion and enforcement of equality and non-discrimination laws in England, Scotland and Wales.

Origins

The EHRC took on the responsibilities of the Commission for Racial Equality, the Equal Opportunities Commission and the Disability Rights Commission. It also has responsibility for other aspects of equality law: age, sexual orientation and religion or belief. A national human rights institution, it is

Scope

The EHRC has offices in Manchester, London, Glasgow and Cardiff. It is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) sponsored by the Government Equalities Office, part of the Department for Education (DfE). It is separate from and independent from Government but accountable for its use of public funds. The EHRC's functions do not extend to Northern Ireland, where there is a separate Equality Commission for Northern Ireland (ECNI) and a Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission (NIHRC), each established under the terms of the Belfast Agreement.[1]

Investigating the BBC

On 12 March 2019, the EHRC launched an investigation into suspected past pay discrimination against women at the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC):

Following complaints that female employees were not being paid the same as men for equal work, the BBC has voluntarily provided us with a large amount of information about its pay policies and practices.

After looking at all of the information, we suspect that some women at the organisation have not received equal pay for equal work.

We are using our powers under the Equality Act to open an investigation, which will look at whether BBC staff experienced unlawful pay discrimination from 1 January 2016.

We will look at formal and informal pay complaints raised with the BBC by staff to decide if there has been unlawful pay discrimination against women and whether complaints have been adequately resolved.

We hope to finish our investigation by the end of 2019. We will publish a report once the investigation is done, setting out our findings, any action we have taken and recommendations for the BBC.[2]

Investigating the Labour Party

On 7 March 2019, the EHRC opened an investigation into the Labour Party saying that the party may have "unlawfully discriminated against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs" as it announced the first step of a statutory inquiry into Labour's handling of antisemitism complaints.

The action by ECHR follows legal complaints made by Campaign Against Antisemitism and the Jewish Labour Movement last year, which have argued that the party is not compliant with equalities law in dealing with antisemitism.

Gideon Falter, chairman of Campaign Against Antisemitism, said:

“It is a sad indictment that the once great anti-racist Labour party is now being investigated by the equality and human rights regulator it established just a decade ago.”

A Labour party spokesperson said:

“We completely reject any suggestion the party has acted unlawfully and will be cooperating fully with the EHRC. Labour is fully committed to the support, defence and celebration of the Jewish community and its organisations. Antisemitism complaints received since April 2018 relate to about 0.1% of our membership, but one antisemite in our party is one too many. We are determined to tackle antisemitism and root it out of our party.”[3]

Brace yourselves!

On 7 March 2019, Jonathan Cook tweeted:

"The British state's efforts to weaponise anti-semitism to oust Jeremy Corbyn from the Labour leadership goes public as the equalities watchdog body opens an investigation. Brace yourselves - this ain't go to end until Corbyn is gone and Watson restores 'order'."[4]

Confected antisemitism allegations

On 27 March 2019, Jonathan Cook tweeted:

"It is the Labour Party's lynching of black anti-racism activists (and Corbyn allies) Jackie Walker and Marc Wadsworth - both now expelled - that needs investigating by the Equality & Human Rights Commission, not confected anti-semitism allegations."[5]

Leaked Labour report

A leaked internal report shows that the Labour Party’s bureaucrats conspired to undermine their own leader Jeremy Corbyn from the start, even sabotaging the UK/2017 General Election campaign.[6]

It also reveals how Labour’s left-wing leaders came to embrace the right’s witch hunt against members over the manufactured anti-Semitism crisis.[7]

John McDonnell, Labour’s former Shadow Chancellor, said the report was commissioned by General Secretary Jennie Formby and put together by the party’s Governance and Legal Unit. It was due to be submitted to the Equality and Human Rights Commission investigation into antisemitism in the party, but that move was blocked by Labour’s lawyers.[8]

EHRC report published

On 29 October 2020, the EHRC published its 130-page report which found the Labour Party responsible for three breaches of the Equality Act 2010.[9] The EHRC said there were “serious failings in the Labour Party leadership in addressing antisemitism and an inadequate process for handling antisemitism complaints”. One breach by Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, and two breaches by Pam Bromley, a councillor in Rossendale, Lancashire, amounted to harassment of Jewish members under law.

The EHRC uncovered what it said was inappropriate interference in the complaints process over antisemitism by staff from Corbyn’s office, with 23 instances found, including staff exerting influence on decisions on areas such as member suspensions or whether to investigate claims. Some of these decisions were made “because of likely press interest rather than any formal criteria”, it said. While there was a wider culture of political interference in certain complaints, the report said this occurred more often in antisemitism cases, and was thus found to be discriminatory and unlawful.

The report details comments by Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley that it says amounted to unlawful harassment because they were found to have antisemitic themes or suggested complaints about antisemitism were faked or smears. It notes that Bromley made repeated Facebook posts with antisemitic themes, for example defending references to the Rothschild banking group, and complaining about a “fog of fake accusations of antisemitism” and calling herself the victim of a “witch-hunt”.

Complaints were made about her in May 2017, but Bromley was only suspended from the party in April 2018, a day after an article in The Times about her comments.

On Ken Livingstone and Pam Bromley, the report says:

“As these people were acting as agents of the Labour Party, the Labour Party was legally responsible for their conduct. In each case, the EHRC considered the perception of those affected by the conduct, and Labour Party members told the EHRC that the comments contributed to a hostile environment for Jewish and non-Jewish members.”[10]

Ten Commissioners

EHRC Commissioners appointed May 2018

The EHRC Board comprises:

  • David Isaac CBE (Chair)
  • Caroline Waters OBE (Deputy Chair)
  • Suzanne Baxter (pictured)
  • Pavita Cooper (pictured)
  • Alasdair Henderson (pictured)
  • Rebecca Hilsenrath (Chief Executive)
  • Susan Johnson OBE
  • Helen Mahy CBE (pictured)
  • June Milligan (Wales Commissioner)
  • Mark McLane (pictured)
  • Dr Lesley Sawers OBE (Scotland Commissioner)
  • Professor Swaran Singh

The Chair and Commissioners are public appointments made by the Minister for Women and Equalities. The latest round of appointments was announced in May 2018.

Some of the first set of Commissioners resigned towards the end of their first term, while others did not seek a second term. The Commissioners included Morag Alexander, Kay Allen, Jane Campbell, Baroness Campbell of Surbiton, Jeannie Drake CBE, Joel Edwards, Mike Smith, Professor Kay Hampton, Francesca Klug, Sir Bert Massie CBE, Ziauddin Sardar, Ben Summerskill and Dr Neil Wooding. Nicola Brewer, the first CEO (and ex officio Commissioner), returned to HM Diplomatic Service.

Strong Jewish presence

On 12 May 2016, the Jewish Chronicle reported:

"There is a strong Jewish presence at the top of Britain's equality watchdog. David Isaac, new chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, took up office this week, joining Rebecca Hilsenrath, who was made CEO of the body last autumn."[11]

Industrial relations

Six EHRC staff were sacked by email on 9 February 2017 and given a day to clear their desks. Since then another two staff have been dismissed and two Directors are serving their notice. Another member of staff is still at risk of dismissal. Those sacked on 9 February had payment in lieu of notice (PILON) which workers did not agree to because it closes off the opportunity to seek redeployment at the Commission or elsewhere in the civil service.

In a letter the PCS union stated:

"By imposing PILON you are cutting off this option and effectively consigning BME, disabled, women and trade union members to unemployment. There should only be PILON in cases where the individual concerned has agreed to it."

Commenting on the cases, PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said:

"It's absolutely reprehensible that dedicated staff have been sacked and told to clear their desks with a day's notice. "That this has happened at the government body charged with upholding human rights and fair treatment in our society is an absolute scandal and we will continue to fight it."[12]

Employment Tribunal Cases

In November 2018 the Commission paid compensation to staff #sackedbyemail who were taking unfair dismissal cases to an Employment Tribunal.

 

Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:BBC Panorama Investigation Into Labour Antisemitism Omitted Key Evidence and Parts of Labour’s ResponseArticle22 July 2020Justin SchlosbergThe fact that the Labour Party is now settling libel cases brought by both John Ware and the Labour 'whistleblowers' is remarkable, not least because there is meant to be an ongoing internal inquiry into the leaked internal report, whose findings have now effectively been prejudged. But I’ve been told this will cost the party close to half a million in damages and costs.
Document:Bristol West CLP condemns suspension of CorbynArticle10 November 2020SKWAWKBOXLabour’s hierarchy has banned CLPs from debating or voting on Corbyn’s suspension or the EHRC report and some Regional Directors have blocked attempts to do so. It seems Bristol West members hold their democracy and their former party leader in too high a regard to toe the line.
Document:EHRC avoids response to QC’s submission that Labour investigation breaches Equality ActArticle3 August 2019Jewish Voice for Labour's submission to the Equality and Human Rights Commission points out that many of the worst aspects took place under the tenure of former general secretary Iain McNicol, while significant improvements have been made under his successor Jennie Formby.
Document:Fears over conflicts of interest at top of watchdog probing Labour anti-semitismArticle16 July 2019Phil MillerSo why would the EHRC decide to investigate Labour for anti-semitism, when the polls showed it had actually dropped, and not probe the Conservatives or UKIP, whose members displayed Islamophobia?
Document:How top Labour officials plotted to bring down Jeremy CorbynArticle16 April 2020Jonathan CookThe stench of cover-up is already in the air. Keir Starmer's Labour needs to come clean and admit that its most senior officials defrauded hundreds of thousands of party members, and millions more supporters, who voted for a fairer, kinder Britain.
Document:Labour & ‘anti-Semitism’: Real goal of establishment smear campaign is to deny socialists powerArticle23 April 2019Ken LivingstoneAfter three years of screaming headlines, the truth about anti-Semitism in the Labour Party is finally revealed: just 0.08 percent of Labour’s half-a-million members have said or tweeted something anti-Semitic
Document:Racist and Cruel - The Nasty World of the Equality and Human Rights CommissionArticle30 May 2016David HenckeI think the EHRC is becoming part of the new nasty Britain. It will issue fine words but do nothing practical about the plight of people because it won't have the staff to do it. It is all part of turning the country into a place where the wealthy feel comfortable and the rest have to scavenge to survive. The only added twist is that the well paid people at the top of this pyramid at the ECHR are being paid out of ordinary people's taxes.
Document:Starmer’s Mortal Wound On The Soul Of The Labour Partyblog post30 October 2020Rachael SwindonStarmer clearly believes he has now firmly established his own political identity and laid the foundations for the transformation of Labour’s electoral prospects – in the mould of Kinnock and Blair. It may be that he has simply destroyed his reputation for moral and intellectual integrity – and inflicted a mortal wound on the soul of his party.
Document:The EHRC’s report into Labour antisemitism is the real ‘political interference’blog post7 November 2020Jonathan CookIt is instructive to compare the certainty with which the EHRC treats Councillor Pam Bromley’s ambiguous remarks as irrefutable proof of antisemitism in Labour with its complete disregard for unmistakably antisemitic comments from Boris Johnson, the man actually running the country. That lack of concern is shared, of course, by the establishment media and Jewish leadership organisations.
Document:The attack on Jeremy Corbyn is baseless – there is nothing to support it in the EHRC reportArticle29 October 2020Chris NinehamJeremy Corbyn has a record of opposing antisemitism and all forms of racism that are second to none. It was in fact precisely his campaigning and principled approach to politics that got him elected as leader of the party in the first place.
Document:The plot to keep Corbyn out of powerblog post3 July 2019Jonathan CookThe weaponisation of anti-semitism against Corbyn has become so normal that, even while I was writing this post, a new nadir was reached. Jeremy Hunt, the foreign secretary who hopes to defeat Boris Johnson in the upcoming Tory leadership race, as good as accused Corbyn of being a new Hitler, a man who as prime minister might allow Jews to be exterminated, just as occurred in the Nazi death camps.
Document:The shortcomings of the EHRC ReportStatement6 November 2020Jewish Voice for LabourThere are just 12 mentions of Jeremy Corbyn in the EHRC report, of which only two concern actions taken by him. It is reprehensible not to distinguish between actions taken by individuals supportive of Corbyn and those taken by people hostile to him – such an omission leads to the impression that all failings were Corbyn’s responsibility.
Document:This largely pointless EHRC investigation has been welcomed by LabourArticle28 May 2019John Spannyard Indaworks"The upside of all this is that it may well lay to rest the continual Zionist refrain that Labour and Corbyn are an anti-Semitic party. What it is unlikely to do in my view is derail the Corbyn McDonnell project - it's just a bump in that particular road."


References

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