Race fails to get off starting block

5th November 2004 at 00:00
It is hardly surprising that Trevor Phillips, the former television presenter, knows a thing or two about publicity. Indeed, it seems that hardly a week goes by when the chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality isn't being quoted by his old colleagues in the media.

And some pretty strong words he has too, about the nature of society and such stuff. But just how good is the CRE at following up allegations of racism? Not very, if the recent experience of Natfhe is anything to go by.

Back in June, the lecturers' union complained to the CRE about some redundancies being made by Leicester city council which gave rise to allegations of institutional racism. The union claimed that members of the ethnic minorities were disproportionately affected by the job losses and the council had failed to prove it had been even-handed.

Paul Mackney, Natfhe's general secretary, and Brendan Barber, general secretary of the Trades Union Congress, have both written to Mr Phillips urging the CRE to investigate. I hear the CRE is still to decide whether there is a case against the council, let alone whether it will prosecute.

Which could be a problem, because the deadline for action passed two days ago. Sadly, this won't have escaped the attention of Patricia Hewitt, the Leicester West MP and Trade and Industry Secretary, who wants to abolish the CRE.

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