Michael Howard on interfaith group's board

By Robyn Rosen, September 3, 2009

The former Conservative leader Michael Howard and the Labour MP Frank Field, a former minister, have been appointed as part of a “reinvigoration” of the trustees board at the Council of Christians and Jews (CCJ).

The new appointments are part of an attempt to bring in influential characters who can increase the impact and reach of the CCJ, which aims to promote religious and cultural understanding between the two faiths.

Mr Howard, a member of the Liberal Jewish Synagogue in St John’s Wood, said: “I have been a member for many years and I think it’s an organisation that does excellent work.

“It’s very important that relations between the two communities are as good as they can be. There is always room for improvement.

“I was invited to join because of my experience and the expertise that I can bring and I hope to be involved across the board.”

David Gifford, chief executive of the CCJ, said that Mr Howard would provide insight into the Jewish community. He said: “Michael also brings an understanding of government and the issues of society. He has a lot of ideas and is very vocal.”

Mr Gifford added that the board’s new focus will be tackling antisemitism.

“I have been trying to take the CCJ to a new level,” he said. “We needed to look carefully at what skills we need as we face the 21st century and what the key issues are.

“We are worried about the increasing amount of antisemitism that’s happening in the UK. We want to bring in people with special insight and skills and tackle this, big time.”

Mr Howard has insight into both religions after his son, Nicholas, converted to Christianity 18 years ago.

But Mr Howard said that this had “no relevance” to his new position.

Frank Field is an observant member of the Anglican church and the Synod. Mr Gifford said: “Frank Field has a track record of speaking out about important ethical issues.

“He brings a real perspective and insight into interfaith communities as well as what’s happening in government.”

Last updated: 11:58am, September 3 2009