Thursday, September 30, 2004

Call for police investigation of Cardiff Labour Party election leaflet

Civil liberties pressure group Liberty and Law has reported to South Wales Police Chief Constable Barbara Wilding the distribution of a Labour Party election leaflet distributed during June’s local election campaign in Cardiff on the grounds that the action may have been in breach of the Race Relations Act.

The action follows an investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE] and a subsequent apology announced today by Welsh Labour stating that the leaflet pandered to prejudice and was likely to cause offence to the Travelling community and to residents in Llanedeym and Pentwyn [the Cardiff Ward in which the distribution took place].

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup said: “It is unacceptable that it took over three months for Welsh Labour to make an apology for the leaflet that appeared in its name.

The so far anonymous perpetrators have apparently been simply censured and rebuked. If in fact the leaflet is as offensive as stated by Welsh Labour and the CRE the perpetrators should surely be named and shamed. No cover up can be tolerated.

A police investigation is also essential to determine whether the production and or distribution of the leaflet actually broke the law or was simply unacceptable to the CRE and to Welsh Labour (retrospectively). Only in this way will the limits of free speech be determined.”

CRE Welsh Labour apologise for offensive leaflet

PA News: 'Disgraceful' labour leaflet reported to police

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

CRE evasive about BNP members right to work as Lib Dems adopt principled stand

Liberal Democrat shadow home affairs spokesman Mark Oaten, who has an impressive record of combating BNP’s racist propaganda, has committed the Liberal Democrats to fight government plans to ban civil servants from membership of this national socialist party should they adopt this policy.

Speaking at The Guardian’s fringe Liberty or Equality debate at Bournemouth on Monday 20 September, he said: "I am not prepared to have legislation banning BNP membership in place. If an individual starts expressing racist or offensive views, then there are laws already in place to deal with that."

In doing so the Liberal Democrats become the first mainstream political party to draw a line in the sand in defence of Britain’s traditional political liberty against the forces of oppressive political correctness. Conference delegates applauded when he denounced the Labour Party’s plans “a step down a very, very dangerous path".

As if to justify his principled and practical stance, the next day West Yorkshire Police announced the arrest of a seventh man following their investigation of the BBC programme Secret Agent exposing racism within the police service.

Civil rights group Liberty and Law welcomed the initiative of Mr Oaten. Director Gerald Hartup called upon the Labour and Conservative Parties to follow his lead and challenge any implementation of what it calls “an offensive Berufsverbot”.

He said: “It’s not much fun when defending human rights means defending the human rights of BNP members. But our society is strong enough both to defend the BNP and to marginalise it. Lib Dems have broken the mould of political cowardice and deserve our thanks. It is not just the government’s totalitarian inclinations, however, that must be challenged but those of its creature the Commission for Racial Equality. Its chair Trevor Phillips began the witch hunt last year when speaking to the TUC [Congress, 9 September], arguing that that ‘the workplace is no place for racists’ and challenging employers to follow the Prison Service policy of sacking BNP members. The CRE must be made to come clean about its policy and intentions since it has set the agenda for oppression.” [See Questions put to CRE and responses 21 September 2004]

A major example of this witch-hunt is the continuing attempt by officers of the Fire Brigades Union in Hampshire to have a 30 year retained firefighter dismissed from the local service because of his membership of the BNP. The CRE states that it is unable to comment on this “because of its role as a statutory body”.


Trevor Phillips speech to TUC Conference, 9 September 2003
Call to sack BNP fireman rejected, 16 June 2004
Anger over firefighter’s BNP ties, 15 September 2004
FBU letter to Hampshire Fire and rescue Service, 10 June 2004

Questions put to CRE and responses 21 September 2004

Q1a. Does Mr Phillips and/or the CRE call for the dismissal of BNP members or
supporters from all work places?
Q1b. Does Mr Phillips and/or the CRE call for the dismissal of BNP members or
supporters from just some workplaces? If so can the CRE specify those
Background provided to CRE:
Trevor Phillips speaking at the Trades Union Congress on 9 September 2003 said:
"The workplace is no place for racists. Making this a reality shouldn't just fall to trades unionists. Employers have a responsibility too.
For many years the far right targeted one particular public service - the Prison Service. Three years ago, the then Director General, Martin Narey said this: "..membership of racist groups like the BNP, the National Front, Combat 18, on its own would be punishable by dismissal. And everyone who joins the Prison Service now has to sign an agreement that they never have been and never will become a member of one of those organisations".
These were not empty words. In May 2001 a prison officer who wore Nazi
insignia to work was sacked for that and for that reason alone. That
Congress is what I call leadership.
But as far as we know no other major employer has yet followed that lead. Let me issue a challenge to employers today: can you pass the Prison Service
test? "

These words seem to indicate that Mr Phillips backs companies that dismiss members of racist groups that presumably include the BNP, what he calls in the same speech " just another bunch of knuckle-dragging apes."
A. The CRE is concerned about BNP membership and how compatible this is with the delivery of public services to all communities under the Race Relations (amendment) Act. We have not called for any individuals to be dismissed from their jobs as a result of membership of this party.

Q2. Does Mr Phillips and /or the CRE support or oppose the union call for the dismissal of the Hampshire retained fire fighter?
Background provided to CRE:
I am presently looking at the case of a BNP member who stood in an election in Hampshire. The Fire Brigades Union Southern Region Executive Council
Member Dean Mills has written to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service with the clear implication that this man should not be employed by them.
The story has been reported on BBC website, most recently on 15 September []
The Fire service maintains their position expressed in June that it would not sack the man and that he was not breaking its regulations. The case is extensively argued on the BBC website of 16 June
A. I'm afraid we can't comment on the specific case you refer to because of our role as a statutory body.

Q3. Is Mr Phillips and or the CRE contributing to the government's discussions about banning BNP members from civil service employment? Does it support or oppose the ban in principle?
A. As we understand it the Home Office have not made any formal decision to ban BNP members from Civil Service employment. You should contact the Home Office press office if you have any further questions about this.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Police to fast-track recruits with minority ethnic languages

According to a scoop in The Independent by crime correspondent Jason Bennetto [Police to fast-track recruits with ethnic minority languages, 20 September 2004] applicants to join the police service “who speak languages such as Turkish, Bangladeshi and Hindu will be fast-tracked … under a positive discrimination scheme being considered by the Home Office.” The minister in charge of policing, Hazel Blears, has apparently revealed that the scheme “would involve adopting a system where applicants with a foreign language such as Indian, Pakistani, Turkish or Bangladeshi would be recruited first, providing they passed entry requirements”.

Whether the minister actually thinks that Pakistani, Indian, Bangladeshi and Hindu are languages as opposed to nationalities and a major religion is not known. Whether the minister was excluding from her consideration Patois and European and African languages was also not revealed.

However, the gist of the scheme is clear and it could well ‘solve’ the problem of racial under-representation within the Metropolitan Police Service. 7,500 minority ethnic officers are needed to meet the government’s 2009 target of 25.9%. According to the Met’s Human Resources director Martin Tiplady this would need 80% of all new recruits being from ethnic minorities over the next five years.

With 300 languages being spoken in London the police service, using language as a genuine occupational qualification, would only need to recruit 25 officers of each of the required languages. Providing the numbers of each language group are not specified and kept flexible, creating an ethnically balanced service is practicable. With this scheme there is no reason why any monolingual English speakers at all should be appointed in the next five years since the Home Office and the Met believe there are already too many of them in the service.

If to Mrs Blear’s initiative Commission for Racial Equality [CRE] chair Trevor Phillips’ suggestion of paying minority ethnic teacher recruits more than white recruits should be adopted for the police service the target of a racially representative police service looks even more achievable. Should this still not serve the police services could even extend their recruitment all over the world for recruits considered suitable.

The only two problems militating against the success of the initiative at the moment is that there is a freeze on police recruitment and the Home Office do not know whether it would be in breach of the Race Relations Act. The law may need to be changed. As Mrs Blears puts it: “I think we should examine what the legal position is at the moment and see are there ways we can make the existing law work better in terms of drawing people in.”

The Independent’s view that “the idea is likely to be criticised by some as a backdoor quota system that discriminates against white Britons” hits the nail on the head.

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup explained: “We are pleased that from April to June 2004 the Met attracted 23% of recruits from ethnic minorities without positive discrimination. They must keep up the good work, explain that the Home office targets are ludicrous and drop any attempt to gerrymander recruitment. Mrs Blears’ scheme, of course, does not just discriminate against the Independent’s ‘white Britons’ but against monolingual Britons of all shades. What is clear is that we can’t afford to leave progress to the Metropolitan Police Service, the Metropolitan Police Authority, the CRE, the Home Office or the race entrepreneurs. It is just too important. Ordinary people with some common sense need to get stuck in. They might or might not include politicians.”


Friday, September 17, 2004

Wednesday 4 August 2004 [original publication]

Bristol Gallery drops colour bar recruitment scheme

Leading Bristol art institution Arnolfini’s controversial plan to exclude white candidates from a post of Curatorial Fellow has been successfully challenged by civil liberties pressure group Liberty and Law [L&L] following an investigation by the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE].

L&L director Gerald Hartup had written to CRE chair Trevor Phillips on 8 April requesting him to ask Arnolfini to freeze its recruitment process while his legal department investigated the legality of the gallery’s action and its impact on good race relations. Mr Hartup also made a direct request to Arnolfini to freeze the appointment process to allow it to think again about its duty to be an equal opportunities employer and to take into consideration the opinions of the community.

Mr Hartup stated: “ Arnolfini acted very responsibly in agreeing to my request to freeze the recruitment process. Their prompt action gave the CRE time to correct their initial view expressed to the media that the colour bar post was a legitimate use of the Race Relations Act. Arnolfini have since given a signed assurance to the CRE undertaking to comply with the advertising provisions of the Race Relations Act and have also indicated their intention to the CRE to review the programme for trainee curators. This I hope will allow them and their funding partner the Arts Council to consider again the use of race as a job qualification.”

The gallery’s recruitment policy had tried to make use of the provisions of the 1976 Race Relations Act that allows the use of a colour bar to address under-representation of racial minorities in any particular employment area by allowing employers to make special training facilities available to them to compete for such employment.

Liberty and Law argued that restricting the post to African, Asian and Caribbean curators was not justified under Section 37 of the Race Relations Act because the job, to curate an exhibition on Blaxploitation, the African-American film genre of the 1960s and 1970s, was clearly not a training post but a substantive one as its job description and salary grade [Grade 5 £18,889 - £21,408] made clear. Liberty and Law argued that far from being a training position it was the sort of job which ambitious curators would be delighted to undertake.

Mr Hartup added: “Arnolfini’s good faith in this matter is self evident. There is, however, confusion about the use of Section 37 shared even by equal opportunities professionals. I am asking the CRE to put up on its website details of the Arnolfini case and other Section 37 cases that it has ruled against, unfortunately without publicity, to help reduce the unknown extent of the abuse. Had more information been available local Councillors, MPs and the Bristol Racial Equality Council would have had the information to enable them to challenge the use of the colour bar in this case.”

“In the meantime Liberty and Law will seek cross party parliamentary support to end the Section 37 exemption. “

Working with the CRE in 1994 Mr Hartup then with the Freedom Association successfully prevented the BBC from implementing a similar Section 37 scheme to recruit a Senior Radio Producer and a Television Producer that the Corporation had claimed were traineeships.


Note to editors

[1] The colour bar exclusion
Arnolfini is working towards Equal Opportunities. Arnolfini is taking positive action to address under representation of Black and Asian artists in accordance with Sections 35 and 37 of the Race Relations Act 1976. The post is only open to African, *Asian and Caribbean curators based in England. However, Arnolfini welcomes applications from all sections of society. We would appreciate it if you could complete and return the enclosed monitoring form with your application. If you require any part of this information in large print or other format, please do not hesitate to contact us.

[2] CRE initial media response
No whites policy for arts job, 5 April 2004-08-03
A Commission for Racial Equality spokeswoman said the advertisement did not appear to breach guidelines set out in the Race Relations Act.
She said: "There are exceptions in the Act for training and apprenticeship opportunities and I believe that is what this post is offering."

[3] Other Liberty and Law race relations initiatives
See index

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

BBC comedy show reported to police for alleged breach of Public Order Act

Civil liberties pressure group Liberty and Law has reported to the Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir John Stevens the Radio 4 programme Jeremy Hardy speaks to the nation broadcast on 9 September and which was still accessible on the BBC’s website today in which Mr Hardy states: “If you just took everyone in the BNP and everyone who votes for them and shot them in the back of the head there would be a brighter future for us all.”

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup explained: “Jeremy Hardy is a funny and accomplished comedian who is also a left-wing polemicist. It would be fair to say that he hates the BNP and everything it stands for. It would also be wrong to suggest that he was advocating this solution to the political problem the BNP represent. However, he knows perfectly well that a section of the anti-racist movement advocates beating up “the Nazi BNP” wherever it appears but gives sustenance, legitimacy and support to such people who believe that street violence is a legitimate political tactic by the statement in the programme and its context.

“I believe that in the circumstances the statement is in breach of the Public Order Act. I think it is particularly dangerous because it has been made under the production guidelines of the BBC. I have contacted the BBC’s chairman and director general to request that they take the programme off the website pending police investigation of the matter.”

Gerald Hartup reported Ann Winterton MP to Cheshire police for her train ‘joke’ in May 2002. In 1992 he instigated the prosecution of Cheltenham racist Bill Galbraith for his behaviour during and after the selection of Conservative Party candidate John [now Lord] Taylor for the then Tory marginal seat of Cheltenham won and now held by the Liberal Democrats.


Further information: Gerald Hartup Tel: 020 7928 7325 Fax: 020 7207 3425

Saturday, September 04, 2004

Metropolitan police colour bar recruitment chaos

“Are the Metropolitan Police Service, the Home Office and the Commission for Racial Equality [CRE] simply incompetent?” asks human rights group Liberty and Law.

The question arises because of their acceptance of the ludicrous ‘vision’ of former Home Secretary Jack Straw under whose dozy watch in 1999 the Met were committed to increase the proportion of visible ethnic minorities in the force to 25.9% by 2009.

What was quite clear at the time was that this was quite impossible to achieve given anticipated recruitment and retirement rates. The question that must be asked and answered was how and why this impossible target was agreed and adopted. Was it a fraudulent target set up to fail? What is the evidence?

Human Resources director at the Met, Martin Tiplady’s [appointed after the targets were adopted] latest observation [2 September, People Management] is that to achieve the government’s target and to move from current ethnic minority representation of 6.5% to the required 25.9% would require up to 80% of new recruits to be from ethnic minorities.

He had earlier told a meeting of the Metropolitan Police Authority [MPA] that to achieve the Home Office target over the next five years the Met’s recruitment intake would have to be 68%. [MPA press release 22 July]

68%, 80% why not 120%? They are all equally unattainable and equally offensive.
So what is the game that is being played? By April of this year the Met publicly stated that the government imposed target was impossible to achieve. The Guardian’s Vikram Dodd ran a story [Met plan to fast track black recruits, 17 April] in which Tiplady floated a desperate plan to seek exemption from the Race Relations Act to enable it to fast-track ethnic minorities into the force. The scheme involves dropping the existing first come first served race neutral queue for successful applicants to start training in favour of holding back white candidates to allow ethnic minority candidates to leapfrog them.

He announced that the Met was to discuss this with the CRE in the next fortnight and if their backing was obtained seek the support of the Home Secretary for a change in the law to allow the Met to racially discriminate in its recruitment. The Metropolitan Black Police Association’s [MBPA] chair Leroy Logan confirmed that his organisation had put forward the idea to the Morris inquiry.

Although the CRE did not put out a press release it has apparently rejected the request by the Met to lobby the government to grant it an exemption from race discrimination law. People Management [ No race exemption for Met, 2 September] quotes a CRE spokesman: “ We would not support any exemption from the Act for the Metropolitan Police. We are against all discrimination, including positive discrimination. It is illegal.”

The MBPA bounced back in BBC News Online [Quotas call by black police group, 4 September]. This was followed up by an interview on the Today Programme a few hours later with Chief Superintendent Ali Dizaei, the National Black Police Association’s legal adviser and Chief Inspector Jan Berry the chair of the Police Federation of England and Wales.

Frequently using the term ‘frankly’ Dizaei assured interviewer John Humphrys that his scheme to favour black and Asian candidates over whites of equal merit would not put the latter at a disadvantage. He used as evidence the fact that quotas had been used in the United States for 30 years and that 80% of the electorate supported this. Humphreys was in no position to question the accuracy of this statement.

Karen Chauhan, director of the unfortunately influential 1990 Trust has argued [Fast tracking black cops the only hope for Met diversity, 18 April, Black Information Link] that "the fast-track scheme will inevitably be opposed by reactionary elements both within the police force and right-wing commentators".

Liberty and Law director Gerald Hartup said; “Chauhan is quite right. What she doesn’t perhaps appreciate is that it will also be opposed by progressive anti-racists opposed to racially divisive schemes dreamed up by self-seeking activists who for a generation have done their best to stop ethnic minorities joining the police service. Fortunately they will also be joined by the CRE. We now expect our elected representatives both national and local to make it quite clear that we shall continue to treat people as unique individuals. This requires that Ali Dizaei and the National Black Police Association be informed that they are part of the problem not the solution. Frankly we have grown bored with their whingeing. At the same time we must make it clear that we expect the Met to be a genuine equal opportunities employer. We must stay on their case. We are pleased that from April to June 2004 the Met attracted 23% of recruits from ethnic minorities without positive discrimination. They must keep up the good work, explain that the targets are ludicrous and drop any attempt to gerrymander recruitment by brutally racist and counter-productive gimmicks. We clearly can’t afford to leave progress to the MPS, the MPA, the CRE, the Home Office or the race entrepreneurs. It is too important to be left to amateurs. Ordinary folk with some common sense need to get stuck in”