A UN group has “misrepresented” the findings of a report into racial disparities after it claimed it attempts to “normalise white supremacy”, the government has said.
The UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent said it “categorically rejects and condemns” the findings of the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred).
The group said the report “cites dubious evidence”, adding: “This attempt to normalise white supremacy despite considerable research and evidence of institutional racism is an unfortunate sidestepping of the opportunity to acknowledge the atrocities of the past and the contributions of all in order to move forward.”
It has urged the government to reject the findings and called for the Commission to be “disbanded or reconstituted”.
Spokesmen for Downing Street and Cred both rejected the criticism and said the findings of the report, commissioned in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, had been misrepresented.
In a statement released by the Cabinet Office, the Cred spokesman said: “We are disappointed that the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent has grossly misrepresented the report’s findings, and appears to be a response to negative press coverage rather than the substance of its content.
“The misleading claims they have made risk fostering division on the subject of race, rather than constructive discussion on the issues.”
A spokesman for prime minister Boris Johnson said: “Our view is that this report misrepresents the findings.
“We remain proud of the UK’s long history as a human rights champion and we encourage everyone to read the original report in full.”
In response to the claim that the Cred report attempts to “normalise white supremacy”, the No 10 spokesman said: “Absolutely not.
“This report in no way condones racist behaviour and in fact it highlights that racism and inequality are still problems for our country.”
The government-commissioned Cred report was met with a raft of criticism from UK politicians, charities, and other groups when it was published on March 31.
It 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, Dr Tony Sewell, 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 there is much evidence to suggest different experiences of family life can explain many disparities in education outcomes and crime.
The UN group said the suggestion that family structure rather than institutionalised discrimination is a central part of the black experience is a “tone-deaf attempt at rejecting the lived realities of people of African descent and other ethnic minorities in the UK”.
It said the report has failed to recognise accounts of institutional racism in health, education, employment, housing, the justice system and other areas in the UK, raised in domestic reports and by international human rights experts.
The UN group also said the report’s “mythical representation of enslavement is an attempt to sanitise the history of the trade in enslaved Africans”.
The Commission has previously said any suggestion that it would play down the atrocities of slavery is “as absurd as it is offensive”.
Johnson has previously called the review a “very interesting piece of work” but admitted more needed to be done to address racism.
“I don’t say the government is going to agree with absolutely everything in it, but it has some original and stimulating work in it that I think people need to read and to consider,” Johnson said.