Exclusive: Historian "Disgusted" At Being Named As Adviser In Race Report And Accuses Downing Street Of "Manipulating" Him
Stephen Bourne has accused Downing Street of "manipulating" him
A British author listed as a "stakeholder" on the government's controversial race report has claimed he was "manipulated" by Downing Street.
Stephen Bourne, who has published several books about the history of Britain's black community, has hit out at the government, claiming he was "manipulated" into being involved with the government's racial and ethnic disparities report.
Bourne told PoliticsHome he was contacted by No10's special adviser for civil society and communities, Samuel Kasumu, early last year, who invited him to Downing Street for a roundtable with other historians of Black Britons, but was not informed it was related to the work of the committee.
When he arrived, Bourne says he was met by Kasumu and Tory minister Kwasi Kwarteng before being told to give a presentation via Zoom to the members of the committee.
"I've never heard of this commission, I'm not interested in Tory commissions or even Labour commissions. I didn't know who they were and no one told me anything," Bourne told PoliticsHome.
Bourne said it was not until after searching the names of the committee online did he realise the purpose of the meeting.
"At no time did anyone explain that to me," he added. "There was no roundtable discussion of historians of black Britain which is what I was expecting."
Following the meeting, the author said he was "so disgusted" that he had contacted Kasumu and "read him the riot act" for not explaining the nature of the meeting which he had intended in "good faith".
"I really am shocked at being manipulated, and sadly, at Samuel, who I actually think is a really nice guy," he said.
"It's disrespectful, but now it's evolved into a report, a very controversial report, and I agree with all the criticisms made with it."
Bourne also hit out at the commission and its chairman Dr Tony Sewell. "The whole thing is so manipulated and my experience bears that out. While I was in No10 at this meeting with the commission, I honestly, hand on heart, did not know who they were,” he added.
"None of it was explained to me and I didn't know. And now that I'm named in the report I'm not happy at all."
He added: "I'm just not interested in stuff like that unless it's going to make some difference. If I was asked to give a presentation and it was explained to me who the commission were and what they were doing I would have given a presentation, I would have prepared something.
"It was probably a lost opportunity for me, but maybe not because they've published a report that nobody likes, including me."
Bourne also criticised the study's conclusion which found no evidence of "institutional" racism in the UK, saying it "does exist".
"I mean, it really really does and it's shocking."
Meanwhile, a second historian and author, S.I Martin, said he only found out this morning "to his horror" that he had been listed as a stakeholder.
"I've had no contact with any government agency or administration, labour or conservative, and if they knew the first thing about me I'd be the last person they would think of asking," he told PoliticsHome.
"I'm not surprised given the nature of the current administration, it's what we expect of them but obviously its got to be flagged up for anyone who is interested in opposing their policies and their behaviours which they're normalising."
And hitting out at the report, he added: "I am not surprised by the conclusions although a couple of things are horrific.
"It's a literal whitewash of the realities of racism for people of African background in this country.
"It's a disgraceful attempt to use the names of black writers, public thinkers and academics as a fig leaf to perpetrate these enormities.
"The most cursory, casual Google of my name or on YouTube would provide them with all the evidence they need. I am the most unsuitable person to be pushing this agenda, or even addressing it politely."
No10 have been approached for comment.
PoliticsHome provides the most comprehensive coverage of UK politics anywhere on the web, offering high quality original reporting and analysis: Subscribe