Some of the offending statements date back years and a reference to grooming gangs is among them. In a 2016 article entitled Race and Faith: The Deafening Silence, Phillips wrote: "The most sensitive cause of conflict in recent years has been the collision between majority norms and the behaviours of some Muslim groups. In particular, the exposure of systematic and longstanding abuse by men, mostly of Pakistani Muslim origin in the north of England". This is further proof, as if any were needed, that Labour wants to suppress any discussion around grooming gangs.
In the same article he describes how he attended an Islamic conference prior to Remembrance Sunday and saw only one poppy among those attending. He compared this with another visit that day in which he saw many black and European migrants wearing poppies. "One group had clearly adapted to the mainstream, the other had not", he noted. Also cited in Formby's letter are Phillips' concerns regarding a poll that showed one in four British Muslims expressing sympathy towards those who carried out the 2015 Charlie Hebdo massacre.
Phillips was head of the CRE from 2003 and continued as chair when it was rebranded the Equality and Human Rights Commission in 2006. It's perhaps no coincidence that the EHRC is currently investigating the Labour party over anti-Semitism and its report is expected at some point in the near future. Although Phillips is no longer involved in the EHRC he has become an outspoken critic of Labour anti-Semitism and Jeremy Corbyn's leadership in recent years. Writing in today's Times he surmises that the motives for his suspension could be in part vengeance for his criticism, but also a means to discredit the EHRC ahead of the publication of its findings. He writes: "Weaponising Islamophobia to attack political opponents may seem like clever tactics but trying to intimidate a legally independent organisation is pure political gangsterism".
Among those who have sprung to Phillips' defence include Labour MP Khalid Mahmood. The Pakistan-born member for Birmingham Perry Barr said: "The charges were so outlandish as to bring disrepute on all involved in making them".
This is an insidious move by Labour to head off the EHRC report. Not much will be said about it by Corbyn or those around him. Justification will be left to his proxies, the die hard loyalists of Novara Media such as Boring Bastani and Literally A Communist Sarkar. All that will be proven by this venture is that Labour and the left are intent on silencing any debate around Islamism, from terrorism to grooming gangs.