The former head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission has suggested his shock suspension from Labour Islamophobia allegations are linked to him speaking out about “leadership’s failure to tackle antisemitism in the party.”
Trevor Phillips, a pioneering anti-racism campaigner and the inaugural chairman of the EHRC, was informed by Labour on February 28 of his suspension.
If found guilty of the charges, the 66-year-old faces expulsion from Labour, where he is a member of the Holborn and St Pancras Party, whose MP is Sir Keir Starmer, the favourite to take over from Jeremy Corbyn next month.
Writing in The Times on Monday, Mr Phillips said: “Some will see it as payback by Corbynistas for public criticisms I made of the leadership’s failure to tackle antisemitism in the party.
“Another possibility is that it’s an attempt to scare the EHRC, which I used to lead and which is investigating Labour’s handling and antisemitism.”
Mr Phillips was among a number of public figures who wrote to The Guardian last year and said they would not be voting Labour at the last General Election in solidarity with the Jewish community.
Last month, a senior Labour figure told to the JC that “new procedures” had been brought in by the party to deal with allegations of Islamophobia.
The party source added: “Last month there was one expulsion under new procedures dealing with Islamophobia though it is fairly common for antisemitism cases to also include misogyny, and sometimes Islamophobia, especially since investigations do now trawl for examples other than those provided from complainants, and are increasingly generated by party staff themselves.”
It is believed the party’s new procedures included the adoption of a controversial new definition of Islamophobia, which was worked on by leading figures in the Muslim advocacy group MEND.
On Monday Mr Phillips said he was a victim of the definition – which was approved by a cross party group of MPs – which defines Islamophobia was “a kind of racism” hostile to “Muslimness.”
Writing to Mr Phillips, Labour said the the allegations against him arose from “numerous statements you made on public platforms” and also his authoring of an essay entitled ‘Race And Faith The Deafening Silence’.
Many of the statements now brought to the attention of Labour’s General Secretary Jennie Formby from Mr Phillips date back years.
Mr Phillips has not been informed of the identity of those who have brought the complaint.
Khalid Mahmood, the Labour MP told the Times the charges were “so outlandish as to bring disrepute on all those involved making them.”