Has Trevor Phillips reign at the Equality and Human Rights Commission come to an end?

Rumours are rife that Sir Trevor Phillips contract for the top job at the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) will not be renewed at the end of autumn. Sources have informed London’s Evening Standard that an informal agreement has been reached that Sir Trevor will be offered the post again on the basis that he refuses to take it. The Daily Mail, published by the same group has also made the same claim. They add in their article that some of the Commissioners have threatened to resign if the contract is renewed.

It looks like the government has finally lost its patience with the current leader of Britain’s most significant equality institution in history. He is inappropriately shrouded in controversy, lacks the ability to gain support from the inner ranks of the commission, not to mention the widely reported conflicts with senior colleagues, which has seen a spate of high profile resignations.  All of these teething issues have been present while there has been wide political acclaim for his work. Where did it all go so badly wrong?

Eyebrows were raised when it was discovered that Sir Trevor is paid £110,000 for a three and a half day week. The rest of his time is spent pursuing other interests. Notably Sir Trevor is also a 70% share holder of a consultancy called Equate which gives paid advice on equality issues, clearly an association that has a conflict of interest. The issue raised controversy and was reported across the national media. It became a hot topic as soon as it became apparent he had given paid advice through Equate to Channel 4 following the Shilpa Shetty incident.

The National Audit Office refused to sign off the organisation’s accounts because of alleged irregularities. The final report due soon is expected to focus on alleged financial irregularities relating to four senior staff who the EHRC re-employed after they were given redundancy payments said to amount to more than £200,000 when the CRE was wound up.

During the past year 34 permanent members of staff resigned from the Equality and Human Rights Commission including three board members and its chief executive. It was widely reported that Nicola Brewer (Former CEO) had endured a difficult relationship with Trevor Phillips, and this was a big factor behind her decision to move on. Sir Bert Massie former chairman of the Disability Rights Commission. Speaking to the Guardian on in March had expressed that he was “considering his position” as commissioner. 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."

So it looks like the writing may be on the wall, despite all of this Sir Trevor Phillips has presided over the equality movement in the United Kingdom over the last three yeras and moved it away from a table banging morale crusade. It has become a measured, centralised best practise agenda which has encouraged businesses and organisations to really buy into the much needed benefits.  I really think he got the strategy of the organisation right.

What’s worrying is that as soon as Trevor Phillips is seen as an easy target by the media they will have a field day with his growing list of toxic issues. When the dust finally settles Lee jasper will look like a saint! Sadly Sir Trevor Phillips may never get the credit for what he has achieved.

posted by

Asif Yusuf



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