Labour MP: We failed the black community

Labour MPs failed to improve the lives of people in the black community, one of Labour’s leading figures has said.

The comments were made by Keith Vaz yesterday, in a meeting on multiculturalism in Britain at the Labour party conference.

Mr Vaz, chair of the home affairs committee and one of the few ethnic minority MPs sitting in the Commons, was flanked by Stephen Lawrence’s mother, Doreen Lawrence.

Desccribing his statements as “almost a mea culpa”, Mr Vaz admitted he and his fellow Labour MPs failed to significantly improve the status of the black community in the UK.

“We needed to do more,” he told delegates.

“Parliamentarians failed you terribly on this issue.”

Moments later, Mrs Lawrence used the meeting to voice concerns about the status of a review into the Macpherson report recommendations.

The Macpherson report, which followed the murder of Mrs Lawrence’s son, Stephen, in 1993, found the British police force to be “institutionally racist”.

Mrs Lawrence claims not enough time or funding has gone into a review of how far the report’s recommendations have been implemented.

“We shouldn’t be struggling for a review,” she said.

“If we can’t have an independent review I can’t support this.”

Mr Vaz is facing allegations of conflict of interest after it was revealed he sent a letter to a high court judge calling for a delay in a case in which his friend, Shahrokh Mireskandari, was acting as solicitor.

It is not the first time he has found himself in the media spotlight as chair of the home affairs committee. During the days following the vote on 42-day detention, journalists asked Mr Vaz if he had been offered a knighthood given his sudden capitulation to the government’s views on the matter.