Prime Minister’s decision to appoint Dr Tony Sewell to face legal challenge from a national anti-racist charity, The Monitoring Group

A leading anti-racist advocacy and campaigning charity, The Monitoring Group, will challenge Boris Johnson’ decision to appoint Dr Tony Sewell as Chair of the Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities (CRED). The group has instructed senior solicitor Chez Cotton of civil rights firm Matthew Gold & Co. A Letter Before Action in the proposed judicial review challenge has been sent today (10/08/2020).

The Monitoring Group believes that Dr. Sewell’s long-standing record of public statements rejecting or minimising the overwhelming evidence that already exists about issues such as institutional racism in the criminal justice system or the impact of racism within the education system (for example) are incompatible with his appointment as the Chair of an independent commission. The fact that Dr. Sewell was moved to apology for his discriminatory remarks about the LGBT community on day one of his tenure serves only to underline the point. The initial response to Dr Sewell’s appointment demonstrates that we are not alone in our concerns.

At face value, given his publicly stated views, Dr. Sewell will not be viewed as an objective leader of commission that is expected to explain the real causes of racism and purportedly recommend positive changes. This appointment undermines the very purpose which we are told the Prime Minister seeks to achieve.

Appointments to the Commission are ultimately a matter for the Prime Minister. However, the Monitoring Group believes that Dr Sewell’s appointment indicates that the Prime Minister has failed to have due regard to the Public Sector Equality Duty.

Suresh Grover, Director of The Monitoring Group said, “We have thought hard about this challenge, it is not a decision that has been taken lightly. In the end, we cannot allow the struggles and gains that have made on race relations in the UK to be undermined, diminished or eradicated”.

Chez Cotton, acting for The Monitoring Group said, “On any view, this is a significant appointment at another critical juncture in the history of race relations and social inequality in this country. There is a clear public interest in making sure that whatever its substance, the Prime Minister has acted lawfully in making it.”

For further information: The Monitoring Group on 020 7582 7438 or 07816 301 706 or;

Legal team: The Monitoring Group is represented by Chez Cotton (contactable on of Matthew Gold & Co and further advised by barristers Leslie Thomas QC of Garden Court Chambers and Michael Etienne of No5 Chambers. Paralegal/researcher is Dylan Morley. , ,

Further legal information :

1. Judicial review is the process by which, traditionally, the Administrative Court can decide whether an action, decision, or failure to act or take a decision is lawful. The process of bringing a judicial review has a number of technical requirements. The first stage of the process is to send a letter before action called ‘a ‘pre-action protocol letter’. See a guide on judicial review from the Public Law Project here. And see the Civil Procedure Rule’s pre-action protocol for judicial review here.

2. The issue in this case is whether or not the decision to appoint Dr Sewell as the Chair of CRED is lawful, bearing in mind the legal obligations that apply to decisions of the Government, including those taken in the name of the Prime Minister.

3. The Prime Minister is obliged under the Public Sector Equality Duty (s.149 Equality Act 2010), when carrying out his functions, to have due regard to eliminating discrimination, promoting equal opportunities and fostering good relations between those of different “protected characteristics” (which include race and sexual orientation). For more information see: