Free Speech Union Urges Human Rights Watchdog to Investigate Nottingham University for Withdrawing Offer of Honorary Degree to Dr. Tony Sewell

The Free Speech Union has written to the Equality and Human Rights Commission urging the watchdog to investigate Nottingham University after it withdrew its offer of an honorary degree to Dr. Tony Sewell following criticism of his report on racial and ethnic disparities which concluded that Britain was not institutionally racist. The FSU believes Nottingham may be guilty of racial discrimination, punishing Dr. Sewell for not holding the ‘correct’ progressive views that it thinks black people ought to hold. The Mail on Sunday‘s Whitehall Correspondent, Georgia Edkins, has more.

The University said it was not appropriate to award the degree while Dr. Sewell was at the centre of a ‘political controversy’.

Yesterday, speaking about the fallout from last year’s 258-page report for the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, the 63 year-old, who already holds a PhD from Nottingham, said: “Nobody was reading the recommendations.

“They just wanted to know if we were talking about issues to do with white privilege or institutional racism. Were you on side for this or not? That’s all they wanted to know. And if you were not, then you were cancelled.”

Following the Government’s decision last week to accept a number of his recommendations, he said he felt vindicated.

But now Free Speech Union chief Toby Young has written to both the University’s Vice Chancellor, Professor Shearer West, and the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

The correspondence, seen by the Mail on Sunday, suggests that Dr. Sewell, who runs a charity helping black children get into higher education, had been sidelined as he “voiced views which, in the minds of some, black people ought not to hold”.

Mr. Young pointed to a number of people given honorary degrees by Nottingham despite being mired in controversy.

They included King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand – “despite his alleged collusion with far-Right militias” – Liu Xiaoming, China’s former UK ambassador who “dismissed reports of Uighur camps as fake news”, and ex-Malaysian prime minister and convicted money launderer Najib Razak.

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September 2022
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