Revolt against Phillips at equality watchdog grows

Half of commissioners expected to resign by end of the week

A fierce row at the Government's Equality and Human Rights Commission escalated yesterday as it emerged that half of the commissioners who until recently sat on the quango's board are expected to have resigned by the end of this week.

Two resigned in April, three have quit in the past four days, and two others are expected to follow by Friday. The latest resignations come in protest at the reappointment of the Commission's chairman, Trevor Phillips.

One inside source compared the exodus to a murder mystery: "It is like an Agatha Christie novel, where you think someone is sitting in the corner library reading quietly and then you suddenly find they have gone."

The Commission's depleted board will meet today to discuss what is expected to be a damning report into the handling of its finances. The sense of crisis will be heightened by the batch of resignations.

Mr Phillips and his deputy, Margaret Prosser, were reappointed for a second term by the Equality minister, Harriet Harman. At the same time, Ms Harman announced that the size of the 16-member board, made up of the chairman, his deputy, and 14 commissioners, was to be cut back, and that all the commissioners would have to reapply for their jobs.

Since the announcement, Professor Francesca Klug, a human rights academic, Jane Campbell, a health and social care specialist, and the veteran disability campaigner Sir Bert Massie have resigned. Two more resignations are expected by Friday.

In his resignation letter, Sir Bert compared Mr Phillips to Lord Cardigan, who led the Light Brigade to disaster in the Crimean War. He wrote: "It is rather as though at Balaclava Lord Cardigan had been reappointed and the remnants of the Light Brigade invited to reapply for their posts."

Sir Bert's term of office was due to end in September anyway, but a senior figure at the Equality Commission admitted yesterday that the loss of the other two was a major blow. "There have been some disagreements around the table about the Commission's direction of travel," he said. "You had 16 people with strong political views about what we should be doing. Trying to keep a group of that size together was difficult.

"But the actual process itself hasn't been helpful. When you had two members of the board reappointed, and the others told to reapply for their jobs, you can understand that they weren't very happy."

Mr Phillips has attracted criticism for his management style and his decision to combine private consultancy work with his £110,000-a-year post as a three-day-a-week chairman, which he has held since 2006.

Professor Klug, who supervised the production of a report on human rights which the Commission published last month, referred to "problems of leadership" in her resignation letter.

A report by the National Audit Office, published today, is expected to be particularly critical of the way some staff at the former Commission for Racial Equalities were paid redundancy when the CRE was subsumed in the new Commission, and then rehired by the successor body.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Home Care / Support Workers

£7 - £10 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This care provider is looking for Home ...

Recruitment Genius: Web Team Leader

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Recruitment Genius: Client Manager

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A growing, successful, friendly...

Recruitment Genius: Property Negotiator - OTE £20,000+

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This family owned, independent ...

Day In a Page

Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
Compton Cricket Club

Compton Cricket Club

Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

It helps a winner keep on winning
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate