Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Media campaign to knight Trevor Phillips now looks unstoppable

An international campaign led by the BBC, British Council, Guardian/Observer, Daily Mirror, NUT, North Yorkshire Police Authority the South African Sunday Times and Parliament’s Joint Committee On Human Rights to surreptitiously upgrade the title of the ambitious chair of the Commission for Racial Equality from humble OBE to knight thought to have been thwarted by British civil liberties group Liberty and Law has gained further momentum.

It was thought that The Guardian at least had lost its nerve on 19 August coming clean about their man’s real title in Corrections and Clarifications and that with this setback the campaign would run into the sand.

A Google search In August 2005 for “Sir Trevor Phillips” gave 66 results. During his u-turn on multiculturalism on ITV’s Jonathon Dimbleby programme on 26 February his new title was launched giving it a massive boost. There are now 125 such links and the new title is now firmly entrenched with the BBC, ITN. Channel 4 News, Daily Telegraph, The Times and Scotsman.

The Guardian thought it was safe to return to the campaign on 27 February but its Corrections and Clarifications fought back bravely today reinstating Mr Phillips as a commoner [although it did continue to refer to him as the “chairman” rather than chair of the CRE].

Liberty and Law director Sir Gerald Hartup has now admitted his failure. “It’s no good, I’ve done my best. The position must now be regularized and Mr Phillips given a knighthood.”

It is thought that Mr Phillips, for whom only a peerage serves any practical purpose, is annoyed by the clumsiness of his cheerleaders.

1445 update The BBC's website confirms that it is now seeking to destroy all use of the false title in its reports.