Trevor Phillips: UCU should have contacted me first
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Trevor Phillips, Chair of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission, today said he was "surprised" at the failure of the UCU to introduce its motion on the definition of antisemitism "without consulting the EHRC" at all.
In a reply to a letter sent to Mr Phillips yesterday by Mick Davis Chair of Trustees of the Jewish Leadership Council, Gerald Ronson, Chairman of the Community Security Trust, Vivian Wineman, President of the Board of Deputies and Sir Trevor Chinn, Vice-President, Jewish Leadership Council, Mr Phillips said that he expected the UCU's National Executive Committee to discuss the motion with the EHRC as Britain's national human rights institution, even if it passes.
He reiterated that the EHRC stands by the Macpherson Report, which says that organisations should start from the perception of the victim. Mr Phillips says: "..if the object of harassment or attack regards her treatment as being antisemitic, even if the perpetrator maintains that their action is politically motivated, the presumption is that the victim's perception is what defines the incident."
On the issue of reporting incidents - both for students on campus and academics inside UCU - he says: "Nothing should be able to prevent Jewish students (or any other group, for that matter) being able to complain of harassment, racism or antisemitism."
He suggests that there could be legal problems under Human Rights and Equality law if the motion is fully enacted.
The General Secretary of the UCU, Sally Hunt, has also responded to a similar letter. She ignores any reference to antisemitism within UCU and says that UCU opposes antisemitism, "whatever the outcome of that
debate". She also asks to meet the authors of the letter – the first time that Ms Hunt has asked to meet representatives of the Jewish community. In this meeting, she also offers the chance to raise "any other aspects of your letter.
In the past she has described any representations by community representatives as "outsiders"; interfering in the internal processes of UCU.
JLC CEO Jeremy Newmark commented:- "The intervention by Trevor Phillips is hugely significant. It reinforces our contention that UCU's leadership are promoting a discriminatory policy that will have serious consequences."