War on woke: Distinguished panel of experts who produced controversial race report


A landmark report that celebrates Britain as a beacon for other white-majority countries in race relations was never going to satisfy those on the Left who insist we are a racist hellhole where privileged whites oppress ethnic minorities if not overtly, then through ‘unconscious bias’.

Predictably, when the Commission On Race And Ethnic Disparities published its conclusions yesterday, its members were attacked for being government stooges.

On Radio 4’s Today programme, Nick Robinson went so far as to seem to suggest that Commission chairman Tony Sewell had been appointed only because he could be relied upon to deny there was a problem with racism in Britain.

So who are the members of the Commission who stand accused of ignoring the realities of racism in Britain? ROSS CLARK provides the answers.

Champion of underdogs

Dr Tony Sewell CBE, 62

No one is better qualified to speak on education and the black community than Sewell. Born in Brixton in 1959 to Jamaican parents of the Windrush generation, he studied English literature at Essex University before becoming a teacher in some of London’s toughest secondary schools.

He was part of the team which opened Mossbourne Community Academy in 2004 on the site of Hackney Downs School, which was described as the ‘worst school in Britain’. 

In 2011/12 Mossbourne achieved the distinction of getting seven per cent of its leavers into Oxford or Cambridge universities.

No one is better qualified to speak on education and the black community than Dr Tony Sewell

No one is better qualified to speak on education and the black community than Dr Tony Sewell

Sewell went on to found Generating Genius, a charity which helps children from minority ethnic backgrounds study and follow careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects.

Police gangs reformer

Keith Fraser, 54

The former police superintendent and chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of racism.

Born to Jamaican parents — a bus driver and a secretary — in Birmingham in the 1960s, he has recalled being stopped and searched frequently as a teenager.

He joined the Metropolitan Police in 1985 aged 18, but was still stopped by fellow officers when driving off-duty.

Keith Fraser, 54, the former police superintendent and chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of racism

Keith Fraser, 54, the former police superintendent and chair of the Youth Justice Board for England and Wales, knows what it is like to be on the receiving end of racism

Over his 32 years of police service, Fraser rose to become a Superintendent in the West Midlands force, before becoming the first black chairman of the Youth Justice Board and chairman of Employability UK.

He developed West Midlands Police strategy on deterring young people from joining gangs.

Muslim campaigner

Aftab Chughtai MBE, 62

Unlike many academics who pontificate on racial issues, Chughtai has experience of running a business in the heart of one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities.

Born to Kashmiri parents, Chughtai took over running the family’s babywear shop in Birmingham, and now sits on the board of the Asian Business Chamber of Commerce. 

He is also chair of the West Midlands Police Independent Advisory Group, a trustee of Washwood Heath Multi Academy Trust, and was a co-founder of the campaign group Muslims for Britain, which engages with British Muslims on key national issues.

Unlike many academics who pontificate on racial issues, Aftab Chughtai MBE, 62, has experience of running a business in the heart of one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities

Unlike many academics who pontificate on racial issues, Aftab Chughtai MBE, 62, has experience of running a business in the heart of one of Britain’s most ethnically diverse cities

In 2017, he was appointed to the Grenfell Tower taskforce, charged with scrutinising Kensington and Chelsea Borough Council’s efforts to help the community recover from the tragedy.

Kenya-born researcher

Mercy Muroki, 25

Born in Kenya, Muroki attended a school with no electricity and a pit latrine for a toilet. Aged five, she arrived in West London with her parents and sister.

Shortly after, her parents split — and her mother and the two children were homeless for a period. 

Muroki became a mother herself, aged 18, but went on to read politics at Queen Mary University of London and study for a MSc at Oxford, where she won several academic prizes.

Born in Kenya, Mercy Muroki, 25, attended a school with no electricity and a pit latrine for a toilet. Aged five, she arrived in West London with her parents and sister

Born in Kenya, Mercy Muroki, 25, attended a school with no electricity and a pit latrine for a toilet. Aged five, she arrived in West London with her parents and sister

She became a senior researcher at the Centre for Social Justice, and is also a national newspaper columnist.

Race equality leader

Dr Samir Shah CBE, 78

Born in India, Dr Shah came to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School in West London, before reading geography and maths at the University of Hull. He has a DPhil from St Catherine’s College, Oxford.

He began his career at London Weekend Television in 1979, before moving to the BBC, where he held senior positions overseeing political journalism.

Now CEO of his own TV and radio production company, Dr Shah was awarded a CBE in 2019 for services to Television and Heritage.

Born in India, Dr Samir Shah CBE, 78, came to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School in West London, before reading geography and maths at the University of Hull. He has a DPhil from St Catherine’s College, Oxford

Born in India, Dr Samir Shah CBE, 78, came to England in 1960 and attended Latymer Upper School in West London, before reading geography and maths at the University of Hull. He has a DPhil from St Catherine’s College, Oxford

He has served as chair of the V&A and as a visiting professor of creative media at Oxford University. 

He is also member of the Nuffield Foundation Steering Group, working on reviews into inequality. 

He was chairman of the race equality think-tank the Runnymede Trust — which said yesterday it felt ‘let down’ by yesterday’s report — for two decades and has been a member of the Holocaust Commission.

Peerless surgeon

Lord Kakkar, 56

Ajay Kakkar is a prime example of the success many families of Indian origin have enjoyed in supposedly racist Britain.

He followed his father into medicine, studying at King’s College, London, followed by a PhD at Imperial College. He is now Professor of Surgery at University College, London.

He is the director of the Thrombosis Research Institute, and has worked with the NHS on its strategy to prevent dangerous blood clotting.

Lord Kakkar, 56, is a prime example of the success many families of Indian origin have enjoyed in supposedly racist Britain

Lord Kakkar, 56, is a prime example of the success many families of Indian origin have enjoyed in supposedly racist Britain

He was made a life peer in 2010 before being appointed as a member of Her Majesty’s Most Honourable Privy Council in 2014. He serves as Chair of the Judicial Appointments Commission.

Lord Kakkar chairs medical research charity the King’s Fund, sits as a school governor and is also a commissioner of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea.

TV space scientist

Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, 53

Born and brought up in London, Aderin-Pocock moved between 13 schools, struggling with dyslexia, to eventually win a place to read physics at Imperial College London.

She completed a PhD in mechanical engineering, in the course of which she developed a novel instrument to measure materials just microns thick — a device which was later marketed commercially by the university.

Born and brought up in London, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, 53, moved between 13 schools, struggling with dyslexia, to eventually win a place at Imperial College London

Born and brought up in London, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, 53, moved between 13 schools, struggling with dyslexia, to eventually win a place at Imperial College London

Now a distinguished space scientist, she has presented the BBC’s Sky At Night for the past eight years. 

Much of her time is devoted to inspiring new generations of astronauts, engineers and scientists, and visiting inner-city schools to tell their students how she became a scientist — busting myths about careers, class and gender in the process.

Child safety expert

Naureen Khalid, 59

From a British Pakistani background, Khalid achieved a Masters in Genetics at Karachi University, and later a MPhil at the University of East Anglia. 

She is now an educational specialist who has sat for more than a decade on the governing boards of several schools and academies. 

She also serves as an expert for National Online Safety, an organisation which helps to protect children online by providing safety training to schools.

From a British Pakistani background, Naureen Khalid, 59, achieved a Masters in Genetics at Karachi University, and later a MPhil at the University of East Anglia

From a British Pakistani background, Naureen Khalid, 59, achieved a Masters in Genetics at Karachi University, and later a MPhil at the University of East Anglia

She presents at education events, and has co-founded a national forum which helps support school governors and provides them with a space to exchange ideas and experiences.

Globally feted academic

Dambisa Moyo, 52

Moyo was born in Lusaka, Zambia, but spent some of her childhood in the U.S. She took a chemistry degree at the University of Zambia, followed by a DPhil in economics at Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard.

She worked at Goldman Sachs as a research economist for seven years, advising developing countries on international finances, and served as head of Economic Research and Strategy for Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Moyo has sat on the boards of brewing company SABMiller, Barclays Bank, Barrick Gold and U.S. oil giant Chevron.

Dambisa Moyo, 52, was born in Lusaka, Zambia, but spent some of her childhood in the U.S. She took a chemistry degree at the University of Zambia, followed by a DPhil in economics at Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard

Dambisa Moyo, 52, was born in Lusaka, Zambia, but spent some of her childhood in the U.S. She took a chemistry degree at the University of Zambia, followed by a DPhil in economics at Oxford University and a Masters in Public Administration at Harvard

She has published many books, with her 2009 work Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa, becoming a bestseller — while upsetting those on the Left who believe that ever-increasing quantities of aid is the best way to help the developing world.

In 2009 she was named as a World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, and one of Time magazine’s top 100 most influential people in the world.

Schools stalwart

Martyn Oliver, 49

The only white member of the commission, Oliver started teaching in 1995 and went on to become chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust, which oversees 34 academies in the North, many of which were failing schools when the trust took them over.

The only white member of the commission, Martyn Oliver, 49, started teaching in 1995 and went on to become chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust

The only white member of the commission, Martyn Oliver, 49, started teaching in 1995 and went on to become chief executive of Outwood Grange Academies Trust

Oliver serves as a board member of the Department for Education’s Opportunity North-East, which aims to improve results in secondary schools in that region.

Co-opted members

Kunle Olulode, 59

Olulode, is a former trade union activist on Camden Council who led the 500-strong Camden black workers’ staff group. 

He has also served as a board member of English Heritage and is director of Voice4Change, which represents charities working with ethnic minorities.

Blondel Cluff, 60

Cluff’s parents arrived in Britain from Anguilla with the Windrush generation. A lawyer and former head of legal at Lazard Brothers (a financial and asset management firm), Cluff is a fellow of King’s College London, and has also served as a diplomat. 

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