Equalities watchdog chief Trevor Phillips 'tried to influence inquiry'

Trevor Phillips, head of the Equalities Commission, is facing an investigation into whether he tried to “nobble” a parliamentary inquiry into his work.

Mr Phillips is accused of approaching at least three of the MPs and peers who make up Parliament’s Joint Committee on Human Rights as they were putting finishing touches to their report.

“In our view these discussions could constitute a contempt of both Houses in that they may be an attempt to influence the views of certain members of the committee shortly before it considered a draft report directly relevant to Mr Phillips in his role as chair of the EHRC,” the committee, chaired by Labour MP Andrew Dismore, said in a statement today. “We recommend that the matter should be subject to investigation by the Privileges Committees of both Houses.”

A spokesman for the Equalities and Human Rights Commission confirmed that Mr Phillips had contacted the committee members, but added: “Neither Mr Phillips or the Commission is aware of any reason why any of his actions might amount to contempt of the Houses of Parliament.

“Should the Parliamentary authorities decide to take this matter further both Mr Phillips and the Commission would be happy to co-operate fully.”

Mr Phillips has chaired the EHRC since it was founded in 2007, but his three year tenure has been marked by a series of controversies.

Part of the problem was that the new commission brought together three quangos with only a minimal record of working together, including the Race Relations Commission, the Equal Opportunities Commission, and the Disability Rights Commission.

But Mr Phillips’s management style and his decision to combine private consultancy work with his £110,000 a year three day a week post also drew criticism, and there were some who disagreed vehemently with his strategy of dealing with human rights as a whole, rather than treating racism, sexism etc. as discrete issues. Mr Phillips is a prominent critic of ‘multiculturalism’, the philosophy that treats all ethnic cultures as equals rather than promoting a single culture.

The decision by the Equalities Minister, Harriet Harman, to reappoint him for a second two year term in office last July caused four of the 14 commissioners to resign. Two others had already resigned two months earlier.

The EHRC’s management has also been severely criticised by the Commons Public Accounts committee over staff costs incurred during the setting up of the organisation, which employs over 400 staff on an annual budget of £61.5m.

More than £11 million was paid out in redundancy to staff who did not want to move from the old quangos to the new, but seven former employees of the Race Relations Commission were taken on as consultants after they had been paid off. One received £104,125 in redundancy, and was then taken back for 11 months and paid fees totalling £105,216.

This provoked a public rebuke from the Commons Public Accounts Committee for “poor management and oversight.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own