Trevor Phillips faces contempt inquiry

By Ian Dunt

Trevor Phillips is likely to face an inquiry into contempt of both Houses of Parliament after a potentially ruinous accusation from a joint committee.

In a very short report published today, the joint committee on human rights revealed that Mr Phillips, chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has spoken to three members before a report was published on him.

“We met on February 9th to discuss a draft report on the Equality and Human Rights Commission,” the statement read.

“It emerged at the start of the meeting that Trevor Phillips, the chair of the EHRC, had recently spoken to at least three members of the committee about the committee’s consideration of the draft report and the publication of written evidence with the report.

“In our view these discussions could constitute a contempt of both Houses in that they may be an attempt to influence the views of certain members of the committee shortly before it considered a draft report directly relevant to Mr Phillips in his role as chair of the EHRC,” it went on.

“We recommend that the matter should be subject to investigation by the privileges committees of both Houses.”

The ECHR responded this afternoon with the following statement: “Neither Mr Phillips nor the commission is aware of any reason why any of his actions might amount to contempt of the Houses of Parliament.

“Should the parliamentary authorities decide to take this matter further, both Mr Phillips and the commission would be happy to cooperate fully.”

Recent sessions have seen witnesses complain of a “culture of intimidation” in the EHRC.