Dr Tony Sewell says he is ‘fairly thick-skinned’

Dr Tony Sewell has defended his controversial racism report in the face of fierce criticism – and refused to be cowed by personal attacks.

The educationalist, who chairs the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, came under fire last week for claiming that Britain was not an institutionally racist country.

His findings incensed many left-wing politicians and campaigners, some of whom took aim directly at Dr Sewell and tried to tarnish his credibility for the job.

Last night Dr Sewell swatted away assaults on his character and doubled down on the report’s conclusions. 

‘I’m not going to entertain this idea of me feeling anything – I’m used to this and am fairly thick-skinned,’ he told the Telegraph’s Planet Normal podcast.

He added: ‘When people are desperate to silence you and discredit you, you must be saying something that’s true.’

Dr Tony Sewell has defended his controversial racism report in the face of fierce criticism - and refused to be cowed by personal attacks

Dr Tony Sewell has defended his controversial racism report in the face of fierce criticism - and refused to be cowed by personal attacks

Dr Tony Sewell has defended his controversial racism report in the face of fierce criticism – and refused to be cowed by personal attacks

The Race Commission, launched by Boris Johnson following last summer's Black Lives Matter protests, hailed the UK a 'beacon to the rest of Europe and the world'

The Race Commission, launched by Boris Johnson following last summer's Black Lives Matter protests, hailed the UK a 'beacon to the rest of Europe and the world'

The Race Commission, launched by Boris Johnson following last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, hailed the UK a ‘beacon to the rest of Europe and the world’

The Race Commission, launched by Boris Johnson following last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, hailed the UK a ‘beacon to the rest of Europe and the world’.

Dr Sewell stressed that ‘no one denies that racism exists’ but argues Britain is not institutionally racist – a term he believes is deployed too ‘willy-nilly’. 

Amid cries of a ‘whitewash’, he was branded a Government stooge and compared to Josef Goebbels, Hitler’s minister for propaganda, by a Cambridge professor.

Dr Priyamvada Gopal initially questioned whether Dr Sewell even had a doctorate.

After finding out that he possesses one from the University of Nottingham, she tweeted: ‘Okay, established. It is, in fact, Dr Sewell. Fair enough. Even Dr Goebbels had a research PhD. (University of Heidelberg, 1921).’  

Labour MP Clive Lewis even tweeted a picture of the Ku Klux Klan with the caption: ‘Move along. Nothing to see here. #RaceReport.’

The backlash became so vitriolic that the Commission’s members were forced to issue a joint statement railing against the ‘dangerous personal attacks’. 

Dr Sewell said last night reflected that the response to the report as ‘extreme, unnecessary, over-the-top, ridiculous and absurd.’

He said some of his most vocal critics ‘should be ashamed of themselves ­– they should read the report, not read what other people have said about it, then make a comment.’ 

The report also found that ‘geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion have more significant impact on life chances than the existence of racism’

The report – criticised as an ‘insult’ by Labour – said in terms of overall numbers white boys from low income families were the most disadvantaged.  

RACE REPORT’S KEY FINDINGS  

  • Britain’s success in creating a multi-ethnic society means that it should be considered a ‘model’ for other white majority countries.
  • The Commission has seen no evidence that the UK is institutionally racist.
  • Britain is not yet a ‘post-racial’ society and ‘overt racism’ is still prevalent, particularly online.
  • Children from many ethnic minority communities do at least as well or substantially better than white pupils at school.
  • This success is creating fairer and more diverse workplaces.
  • Organisations should stop using the acronym BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) to describe minorities.
  • The use of ‘unconscious bias’ training should be phased out in the workplace.
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