London mayor’s diversity champion resigns over antisemitism claims

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London mayor’s diversity champion resigns over antisemitism claims

Toyin Agbetu, a member of Sadiq Khan's statue diversity commission, has quit after a Jewish News investigation into his blog posts.

Toyin Agbetu (Image: Hackney Council / Twitter)
Toyin Agbetu (Image: Hackney Council / Twitter)

An appointee to London mayor Sadiq Khan’s ‘statue diversity’ commission has been forced to resign today after being accused of antisemitism.

Activist Toyin Agbetu was among 15 members appointed by the London Mayor for his Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which will review the capital’s landmarks. 

But Agbetu has now relinquished the role after blog posts commenting on Jewish people were brought to City Hall’s attention by the Jewish News.

Among them are posts which Agbetu claimed there was an “immoral hierarchy of suffering” which had seen victims of the Holocaust “served well by Nazi hunters” compared to African victims of the slave trade.

Agbetu, who is also a member of Hackney Council’s review of naming in public spaces, also praised academic Tony Martin, who urged his students to read a book called ‘The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.’

Sadiq Khan next to the Trafalgar Square menorah (Credit Michael Lee Photography)

The book, widely condemned as antisemitic, claims Jews played a leading role in the Atlantic slave trade.

In a blog post, Agbetu paid tribute to the academic Tony Martin – who wrote a book called The Jewish Onslaught – as “a first class historian.” 

The Jewish Onslaught was condemned by Martin’s own faculty members as antisemitic when it was released in 1994.

But Agbetu wrote in 2007: “His alleged ‘crime’ was being the author of a book that explored the role of Jews in the Maafa,” adding that Martin was “a reputable academic.”

A letter signed by Agbetu stated that the Chakrabarti inquiry into “antisemitism and other forms of racism” in Labour was unwittingly discriminatory as “racism against Jewish people is set apart from racism and prejudice against other people.”

The posts, first uncovered by Shaun Bailey, the Conservative challenger in May’s election, is the latest controversy to hit the left-wing activist after he was also accused of posting anti-vaccine comments on social media.

Bailey had called for Agbetu to go. “Agbetu’s record of anti-Semitic comments and anti-vaccine lies put him beyond the pale,” he said.

“One of the best ways for a Mayor to tackle discrimination is to show that City Hall won’t tolerate it.”

A spokesperson for the mayor said Sadiq Khan had a “zero-tolerance policy towards racism and prejudice in any form, and all allegations of this nature are taken extremely seriously.”

“Toyin Agbetu has today resigned from the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm and the Mayor believes this is the right course of action,” he said.

Agbetu did not respond to requests for comment from Jewish News.

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