The equalities minister has hit out at those that have attempted to discredit the findings of a controversial report on racial disparities.
Kemi Badenoch said “appalling abuse” had been meted out to members of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) and false assertions have been made about their work.
Her statement comes one day after the UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent accused the report of attempts to “normalise white supremacy” and urged the government to reject its findings.
Badenoch told the House of Commons she rejects the UN statement which she said was clearly “borne out of the divisive narratives being perpetrated by certain media outlets and political groups who are seeking to sow division in our ethnic communities”.
She will be writing to the group “in the strongest of terms”, she added.
In a statement to the House of Commons, she said: “It is true that this landmark analysis challenges a number of strongly held beliefs about the extensive influence of racism in Britain today.
“The commissioners have followed the evidence and drawn conclusions which challenge orthodoxy and they were prepared for a both robust and constructive debate.
“However, they were not prepared for the wilful misrepresentation of the report, which occurred following its publication, such as false accusations that they deny that racism exists, or that they wish to put a positive spin on the atrocities of slavery, or for statements that commissioners did not read or sign off on their own report, or that they’re breaking ranks.
“I have been informed by the chair and by individual members that the Commission remains united, and stands by their report.
“This government welcomes legitimate disagreements and debate, but firmly rejects bad faith attempts to undermine the credibility of this report.”
She added: “The Government even more firmly condemns the deeply personal and racialised attacks against the commissioners, which have included death threats, and in fact one member from the opposition benches presented commissioners as members of the Ku Klux Klan, an example of the very online racial hatred and abuse on which the report itself recommended more action be taken by government.”
The government-commissioned report, published on March 31, said racism is a “real force” but that Britain is no longer a country where the “system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities”.
Its chairman said it had found no evidence of “institutional racism”, and the report criticised the way the term has been applied, saying it should not be used as a “catch-all” phrase for any microaggression.
The Commission said geography, family influence, socio-economic background, culture and religion all affect life chances more than racism.
Clarifying the report’s findings, Badenoch said it did not deny the existence of institutional racism but did not find conclusive evidence of it in the areas it examined.