PM Boris Johnson appoints Indian-origin experts on new race commission



A new commission announced by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in June in the wake of the Black Lives Matter campaign to look into race and ethnic disparities includes two Indian-origin commissioners: Samir Shah and Ajay Kakkar, officials said on Thursday.

Chaired by education consultant Tony Sewell, the independent commission has 10 members. Shah is a former BBC journalist and former chair of the race relations think-tank Runnymede Trust, while Kakkar is professor of surgery at University College London.

Other members include experts across fields such as science, economics, medicine, policing and community organising. The commission is expected to report findings on the priority areas of health, education, criminal justice and employment by the end of this year.

The June announcement was flayed by the opposition Labour, which called on the Johnson government to implement recommendations of several previous studies into race and racism in the UK, instead of setting up another commission.

Johnson said: “This cross-government Commission will examine inequality in the UK, across the whole population. I am thrilled we have assembled a group of ten talented and diverse commissioners, who each bring a wealth of experience from across a range of important sectors”.

“The commission will be inclusive, undertaking research and inviting submissions where necessary. It will set a positive agenda for change”, he added on Thursday.

The commission said it will review inequality in the UK, focusing on areas including poverty, education, employment, health and the criminal justice system, while looking at outcomes for the whole population.

Shadow justice secretary David Lammy had dismissed Johnson’s announcement, stating that if the prime minister were serious about addressing racial inequalities, he should implement the recommendations of the many reviews already conducted.

He said: “I made 35 specific recommendations in the Lammy review. Implement them. There are 110 recommendations in the Anjiolini review into deaths into police custody. Implement them. There are 30 recommendations in the Home Office review into the Windrush scandal”.

“Implement them. Twenty six into Baroness McGregor’s review into workplace discrimination. Implement them. That’s what Boris has to do. And the Black Lives protests can stop and we can get on with dealing with the coronavirus”, he added.

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