Simon Woolley appointed to Equality Commission


Woolley beat over 600 hopefuls to sit on the public body, set up three years ago to ensure greater equality in areas such as age, disability, gender, race, religion and sexual orientation.

The news was welcomed by Lord Herman Ouseley, a former chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality, who said: “I’m very, very happy that Simon has been appointed.

“He has a formidable track record of success in the fields of race and other equalities areas.

“He comes to the post untarnished by the things that have gone on in the Commission before. If the EHRC really means business, it needs people like Simon.”

OBV’s director is one of ten new Commissioners who will work with the chairman Trevor Phillips.

Woolley said: “I’m honoured to have direct involvement in driving the UK’s Equality body. I’m convinced that a positive equality and human rights agenda is not only fundamental to the dynamism of Britain PLC, but also the heart and soul of our nation.”

Woolley will have special responsibility for race equality, along with newly appointed Commissioner Meral Ece OBE and two reappointed Commissioners, Rev’d Joel Edwards –former head of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance – and Maeve Sherlock, ex-chief executive of the Refugee Council.

Ece, a leading Islington councillor, was the first woman of Turkish descent to be elected in local government 15 years ago, and is a race advisor to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.

Last month Phillips revealed that the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) was being restructured with the board concentrating on specific subjects.

Speaking today, Harman said: “These new Commissioners join the existing Commissioners to create a strong team to take the EHRC forward. Each one brings a wealth of experience, and the new team will be vital in taking forward support for the Equality Bill.”

Woolley has been director of the non-partizan OBV since it’s’ inception 13 years ago, and has established it as a widely respected organisation campaigning for a greater political voice for Britain’s Black communities.

OBV delivers high quality empowerment programmes such as the popular shadowing schemes, where talented individuals get to shadow MPs, magistrates and councillors.

Woolley sits on the REACH taskforce to tackle the alienation of some black youths, and the government’s BME Gender Committee. He is a visiting lecturer at Nottingham University and has collaborated with organisations such as the Fawcett society, Stonewall and Age Concern on equalities drives.

OBV’s deputy director Ashok Viswanathan, said: “It is a tribute to Simon that he has helped take an idea – politic empowerment – and turn that into a grass roots organisation that is respected by all mainstream politic parties and above all BME communities throughout the UK.

“I’m sure he will now bring his expertise, ideas and energy to this public body that will that will help ensure it becomes the dynamic institution it was set up to be.”

Merton Labour councillor Stephen Alambritis, who is of Greek heritage, joins the body with responsibility for disabilities and business.