Equality commission resignations leave ‘void’ in expertise

The resignation of three disability sector leaders from the Equality and Human Rights Commission has left a “void” in expertise, campaigners have warned.

Alun Davies, chair of the commission’s disability committee, Sir Bert Massie and Baroness Jane Campbell are among six commissioners who have quit the equality watchdog since chair Trevor Phillips was reappointed on July 15, despite widespread criticism of his management.

Phil Friend, chair of the disability network Radar, said he was writing to Phillips to find out the commission’s plans to replace the disability experts. He said: “Delivering the commission’s remit demands that overall governance of the commission attracts a high level of disability leadership.”

Caroline Ellis, Radar joint deputy CEO, said the commission would have to work hard to “attract leaders of the calibre of Jane and Bert”.

“The commission will have to substantially show what they are doing to address the concerns of disabled people, such as transparent law enforcement and engaging with disabled groups who are often overlooked, as well as re-establishing confidence in governance.”

Sue Bott, director of the National Centre for Independent Living, said their loss “would be very hard to overcome in terms of their collective experience”. She added that it was her understanding that all three had quit over leadership concerns. “I would hope the government will not just dismiss these resignations, there must be a message there,” she added.

Bott also called for the disability community to be given the opportunity to influence the replacement of the commissioners. “We need to bring in new people and it needs to be a transparent process”, she said.

The other departing commissioners are human rights lawyer Francesca Clug, director of stakeholder relations Bradley Brady and head of communications Kamal Ahmed, who is the latest to walk out.  

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