Parts of a controversial report that claims institutional racism does not exist in Britain were handed only to a select few journalists before its release, it has emerged.
The commission on race and ethnic disparities insisted the first snippets of its landmark investigation into racial disparities be sent to a “tight list of journos” only, an email from the Government Equalities Office (GEO) reveals.
The note, sent to the Independent’s race correspondent Nadine White after she and other reporters, including anyone at HuffPost UK, had failed to receive it, said the commission had “specified” only a select few.
The report was commissioned by Boris Johnson in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, and hit with heavy criticism from MPs and campaigners.
“I’m afraid the commission specified a tight list of journos to be given the trail,” the email from the GEO to White reads.
Among the report’s claims was that racism is not the reason for most disparities between ethnic minorities and their white counterparts.
It also dismisses the “idealism” of young people who claim the UK is institutionally racist, insisting this is “not borne out by the evidence”.
While acknowledging that “overt and outright racism persists in the UK, particularly online” and that Britain is “not a post racial society”, the report claims that societal disparities between ethnic groups “do not have their origins in racism”.
Instead, it argues that all ethnic groups apart from Black Caribbeans outperform their white counterparts at school and this is helping to create more diverse workplaces, although disparities remain at the top of public and private sectors.
Labour MP David Lammy, who is Black, was among those who have hit out at the report, calling it an “insult to anybody and everybody across this country who experiences institutional racism”.
Speaking on LBC this morning, he said: “British people, white and Black, are dying to turn the page on racism.
“They are working in food banks to support the marginalised. They are teaching in after-school clubs to raise awareness. They are working in rehabilitation centres to end the cycle of disproportionate mass incarceration.
“Boris Johnson has just slammed the door in their faces by telling them that they’re idealists, they are wasting their time. He has let an entire generation of young white and Black British people down.”
The prime minister has already been accused by Labour of “trying to wage a culture war” by giving control of the review to his top policy adviser Munira Mirza, who has previously accused an “anti-racism lobby” of fostering a “culture of grievance”.
The government was also criticised after it emerged that charity boss Tony Sewell would chair the review after previously claiming evidence of institutional racism was “flimsy”.
HuffPost UK has contacted the equalities office for comment.