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Equality Human Rights Commission rocked by third resignation in a week

Three high profile senior executives have left the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) within a week with a fourth announcing that he is considering his position. The departure of Nicola Brewer the most senior was reported by Diversity Link last week.  The Chief Executives surprise departure raised eyebrows but seemed innocent enough. A week later and a potential fourth resignation is now on the cards. Questions are now being asked about what’s behind what appears to be a mass exodus.



Nicola Brewer’s departure could have quite rightly been viewed as a progression issue as stated in the Commissions press release thanking her for her work. However Diversity Link had sniffed at other circumstantial elements associated with her departure which had raised suspicion to deeper issues being the cause.  The Guardian newspaper also cited that she had endured a difficult relationship with the organisations leader Trevor Phillips, and this could have been a big factor behind her decision to move on.

We regret not digging deeper! The other two resignations are:-

Patrick Diamond, Director of Strategy appointed August 2007– Has left the Commission to work as a policy advisor to the Prime Minister. His move was received as a surprise as he was not previously known as close to Gordon Brown’s team.

Kay Hampton Commissioner and former chair of the CRE Has said she is stepping down because her workload was "making it difficult to give the right amount of time to the commission". Also a surprise as she had a big hand in merging the Commission for Racial Equality with EHRC. Her workload wasn’t a problem until now?

With three high level resignations and a fourth on the cards, one can safely assume that there is huge unrest at the quango set up two years ago to streamline equality campaigning. The Times reports that more resignations are expected by staff this week as disappointment grows that the watchdog is too close to the Government and not aggressive enough in standing up for those that it is meant to serve.

The most damning evidence in the public domain of major unrest within the organisation was delivered by Sir Bert Massie last week, former chairman of the Disability Rights Commission. Speaking to the Guardian on Friday he expressed that he was “considering his position”. He told the Guardian his views were shared by some fellow commissioners. He added, "There is an anxiety that the commission is not performing as well as it might do, If so many people resign, you have to wonder whether they are happy with their direction."

Any further resignations could spark a mass exodus from the newly formed organisation that promised so much upon formation.  Why are so many thought leaders in the world of Equality and Diversity leaving the country’s leading authority on the issue? Can Trevor Philips, a man with no significant previous experience of running a large organisation, prior to his appointment to the CRE, lead the Equality Human Rights Commission?

Nobody doubts Trevor Philips ability as a former politician and broadcast journalist, that’s where he has made his name. But his ability to lead the Equality and Human Rights Commission is now under serious scrutiny. If matters couldn’t get any worse for Sir Trevor on Sunday the Guardian has reported that the National Audit Office refused to sign off the organisation’s accounts because of alleged irregularities.

Equality campaigners who sighed about the recession being a bad enough ailment to progress of equality and diversity in the UK, will now be in dismay that the country’s leading authority on the issue seems to be in turmoil. As the dark cloud emerges over the offices of the EHRC, Sir Trevor needs to keep his head whilst others are losing theirs if has any chance of surviving what will be a difficult few weeks. No doubt this isn’t the last we have heard of the EHRC in the news this week.

Posted by

Asif Yusuf

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