It is a long-established principle of British democracy that members of public bodies should declare any conflict of interest, and should exclude themselves from any and all discussion where such interests suggest or render them liable to bias.
In wake of the Manchester arena bombing in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May announced the setting up of a new Commission to support society in its fight against all forms of extremism. It was tasked with looking at the growing threat posed by extremist ideas and to advise Government on an appropriate response.
No definition of extremism was given, and terrorism was explicitly excluded from its frame of reference.
British Muslim Human Rights activist Sara Khan was appointed Lead Commissioner, and expert members appointed to the group include LGBT activist and campaigner Peter Tatchell, and Dame Louis Casey, who in 2015 led a review into integration commissioned by the Prime Minister and Home Secretary, and who is on record as saying acceptance of different sexualities and abortion are measurements of social integration (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/575973/The_Casey_Review_Report.pdf). All three have repeatedly condemned orthodox Christian belief upholding biblical prohibitions against immorality and supporting traditional marriage.
By contrast, members of the group holding Christian views and supporting traditional belief as set down in the Bible are conspicuous by their absence. It is therefore clear not just that the composition of the Commission lacks balance, but that it shows evidence of anti-Christian bias that will predispose it to conclusions and advice hostile to the protection and defence of Christian belief. In light of this, the analysis, conclusions and recommendations of the Commission cannot be relied upon.
We would remind Her Majesty’s Government that the UK is still in name a Christian country, and that our laws and traditions since before Magna Carta are founded upon Christian belief. At the same time, under the terms of the Equality Act 2010, religion or belief is a protected characteristic, alongside such things as sex, gender reassignment, age, disability etc.
The Government Code of Conduct for members of public bodies clearly states that, “In matters (where the member has conflicting interest, they) … should not participate in the discussion or determination of a matter where the interest might suggest a danger of bias.” (https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/409604/code-of-conduct_tcm6-38901.pdf)
We therefore call for greater transparency and more balanced representation in the appointment of Commission members. We further call for the immediate removal of all members whose views demonstrate hostility to those holding and practising Christian belief – namely, Lead Commissioner Sara Khan, and expert members Peter Tatchell and Dame Louise Casey.