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Anti-racist Trevor Phillips: Labour is gagging Muslims debate

‘Nonsense’: Trevor Phillips argues Islamophobia is not a form of racism

A FORMER head of the UK equalities watchdog has accused the Labour Party of attempting to gag members after his suspension over allegations of Islamophobia.

Anti-racism campaigner Trevor Phillips, who has chaired the Equality and Human Rights Commission, faces an investigation and could be expelled from the party over comments dating back years.

Mr Phillips — who refused to vote for Labour, saying Jeremy Corbyn had failed to deal with anti-Semitism — faces questions over comments that include remarks on Pakistani Muslim men sexually abusing children in northern British towns, according to The Times. The paper said many of his statements date back years but Labour’s general secretary Jennie Formby suspended him as a matter of urgency to ‘protect the party’s reputation’.

Mr Phillips said ‘no one inside or outside the Labour Party has ever suggested that I have broken any rules’ and said the party was in danger of becoming ‘a brutish, authoritarian cult’.

He accused Labour of attempting to stifle ‘healthy debate’ among members by sending him a letter forbidding him from revealing details of his suspension. Mr Phillips told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday: ‘They say I’m accusing Muslims of being different. Well, actually, that’s true. Muslims are different and, in many ways, I think that’s admirable.’

The 66-year-old said it was ‘nonsense’ to define being anti-Islam as racist, arguing that Muslims did not identify as a race.

The Muslim Council of Britain said: ‘Mr Phillips has made incendiary statements about Muslims that would be unacceptable for any other minority.’

Labour stated it ‘takes all complaints about Islamophobia extremely seriously.’