The principal argument put forward in this lecture is that the interests of Britain’s ethnic minority population are no longer being served by many of the restrictions that apply to the collection and analysis of data relating to race.

From the faces and names of victims reported in the media coverage, it did not take long for the British public to conclude that Covid-19 was taking a disproportionate toll among Britain’s BAME population.  It took statisticians much longer.  Equality is being undermined by data collection practices and legal protocols intended to protect the interests of minority communities whilst fear of causing offence restricts discussion of the reasons for the differential and limits the range of actions that can be taken to protect lives.  Richard Webber will be joined by Trevor Phillips, the architect of much of the equality legislation which was designed to protect minority communities against unfair treatment, in arguing that Covid-19 is just one of a number of areas where current legislation, designed to promote fairness, has now become a major obstacle to the development of policies that promote and ensure a level playing field.


Richard Webber
is the originator of the UK’s leading geodemographic classifications, Acorn and Mosaic.  Five years ago he and Trevor Phillips set up Webber Phillips to promote the use of personal and family names as a means of inferring people’s cultural background.  A fellow of the Institute of Direct Marketing and of the Market Research Society, he is currently a visiting Professor at the University of Newcastle.

Trevor Phillips is a writer and television producer and founding chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.  He is the co-founder of the data analytics consultancy Webber Phillips, and Chairman of Green Park Interim and Executive Search. He is the Chairman of the global freedom of expression campaign charity Index on Censorship; a Senior Fellow at the Policy Exchange think tank; and a Vice-President of the Royal Television Society. Until 2018 he was the President of the John Lewis Partnership Council.

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