Tony Sewell has been confirmed by the government as the chair of the newly-established Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities.
Boris Johnson announced the establishment of the commission after a series of anti-racism protests on British streets triggered by the US police killing of George Floyd while in custody.
Sewell will be joined by nine others in the group, comprised of representatives from the fields of science, education, broadcasting, economics, medicine, policing and community organising. They will look to deliver a report on race disparity within the health, education, criminal justice and employment sectors by the end of this year.
But the new head of the commission has faced criticism for his views in the past, describing any evidence of institutional racism as “flimsy”, and concerns have already been raised regarding his suitability for the role.
Who is Tony Sewell?
A former teacher and international education consultant, Sewell had previously worked with Boris Johnson in 2013 when he led the then-London mayor’s education inquiry into the city’s schools, which resulted in the creation of the London schools excellence fund.
He is currently head of education charity Generating Genius, which works with children from Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities to prepare them for careers and university study in science and technology. He has also been a board member for both the Science Museum and the Youth Justice Board, a fellow at University College London, and sat on the Windrush working group.
Alongside his work in education, Sewell has worked as a columnist and author.
His writing and speaking engagements have long focused on issues of race and education, with some of his published views attracting controversy.
Why is his appointment controversial?
Writing in Prospect magazine in 2010, Sewell said: “Much of the supposed evidence of institutional racism is flimsy.”
In an interview with the Times newspaper last year, the former...