Labour readmit Trevor Phillips after his suspension for alleged Islamophobia is lifted

Trevor Phillips. Pic: Sky News

The former head of the UK’s equalities watchdog Trevor Phillips has been readmitted to the Labour Party after his suspension for alleged Islamophobia was lifted.

The Guardian reports that Phillips was reinstated at least three weeks ago without the matter having gone to a National Executive Committee disciplinary panel.

Phillips, who previously chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), was temporarily banned from the party in March last year. The suspension letter cited prior statements including his reference to UK Muslims being “a nation within a nation” and comments observing how few Muslims wore Remembrance Day poppies.

The Times reported that he was being investigated over past comments including remarks he made about Pakistani Muslim men abusing children in northern UK towns.

Mr Phillips was among 24 public figures who had declared their refusal to vote for the Labour Party because of its association with antisemitism.

At the time he condemned the suspension as a form of political gangsterism from the party under Jeremy Corbyn, having been a severe critic of the then Labour leader.

Following the lifting of the suspension a Labour Muslim Network spokesperson said: “We are once again in a position where we must express the deep disappointment and frustration of Muslim members and supporters across the UK.

“Trevor Phillips’ case is one of the most high-profile recent examples of Islamophobia within the Labour party and quietly readmitting him behind closed doors, without apology or acknowledgment, will only cause further anxiety and hurt among Muslims.”

Labour National Executive Committee member Mish Rahman tweeted: “I have written to the General Secretary of the Labour Party today to ask if there was any process used to decide the reinstatement of Trevor Phillips. This shows a clear inconsistency between the treatment of different protected characteristics by the party…

“The reinstatement of Trevor Phillips without any process also makes a mockery of the party’s commitment to treat all forms of racism as the same. Myself & many other Muslims in the Labour party today feel a great sense of hurt, anger and betrayal and I condemn this decision.”

Labour refused to comment on the lifting of the suspension and Phillips did not respond to a media request for comment.

His readmission to the party comes as the party is facing significant discontent among Muslim voters. Last week Labour held Batley and Spen with a tiny majority after the pro-Palestine campaigner George Galloway won more than 8,000 votes.

And a few weeks ago a poll by Survation for the Labour Muslim Network revealed a sharp drop in Muslim support for the Labour Party since Keir Starmer became leader.

British Muslims have traditionally been among Labour’s most loyal supporters, but the survey showed that Labour’s favourability ratings have dropped by 12% in the last year and only 22% of British Muslims view the Labour leader favourably.

The sharp downturn in support for Labour came after the departure of Jeremy Corbyn who mobilised huge support among British Muslims. Since becoming leader Keir Starmer has moved the party towards the right, declaring support for Israel and India.

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