Sadiq Khan’s review of London’s statues and street names linked to Britain’s colonial past received a major blow today after a hard-left crusader he appointed to his ‘diversity’ taskforce quit due to allegations of racism and anti-Semitism.
Toyin Agbetu has admitted he jumped before being pushed, accusing critics of ‘Afriphobia’ and conspiring with Priti Patel’s Home Office to discredit him and damage the BLM movement because they want dozens of monuments across Britain toppled.
The slew of incendiary public comments made by Mr Agbetu raises serious questions about Mr Khan’s vetting process for members of his 15-member ‘Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm’.
Agbetu was appointed by the capital’s Labour mayor despite him once confronting the Queen at Westminster Abbey where he was dragged away after yelling: ‘You should be ashamed’ at the monarch.
More recently he was publicly disparaging about the Pfizer Covid-19 jab when health chiefs were trying to boost the uptake among ethnic minorities, sarcastically calling it a ‘magical vaccine from Viagra specialists’.
He also accused Diane Abbott of being ‘disloyal to her own community’ and called Mr Lammy a ‘poor example of Africans’ while a Jewish News investigation found he claimed victims of the Holocaust were ‘served well by Nazi hunters’ compared to African victims of the slave trade.
And today the activist from Hackney was forced to step down after a series of damaging stories and pressure from Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Mayor of London candidate, who urged Mr Khan to remove him immediately for his ‘racist past’.
A spokesman for the Mayor of London said this afternoon: ‘The Mayor has 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.’
Toyin Agbetu who was appointed by Sadiq Khan to review London’s statues has been accused of racism and has now been forced to step down
The activist’s comments in an online blog have led Shaun Bailey, the Conservative Mayor of London candidate, to urge Mr Khan to remove him for his ‘racist past’
Mr Agbetu has refused to apologise for his comments – claiming he is a victim of a Tory conspiracy.
he wrote on Facebook: ‘This year the mayoral candidate Shaun Baily is now attempting a similar Afriphobic campaign. I can’t take the risk that all the gains we have made re BLM unravel so I have had to make a frustrating but strategic move. I voluntarily decided to step back from the post before being asked, to help reduce the attacks on the important work of the commission’.
He added: ‘They are looking for any means to destroy my reputation’.
Mr Khan had hired Mr Agbetu, 53, in the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter movement which led to criticism over the capital’s statues which celebrate figures with colonial links.
The Mayor faced criticism of his commission which he set up to review the statues after historians claimed it excluded conservative viewpoints.
Mr Agbetu wrote in a blog post about Abbott’s decision to run for Labour leadership in 2010 that she had been ‘disloyal to her own community and, worst yet, with minimal coercion, willingly betrayed herself’ by getting involved in frontline politics.
He added Labour should not be ‘elevating a woman who – to be frank – the African community is embarrassed about’.
Mr Agbetu accused Diane Abbott of being ‘disloyal to her own community’ in an online blog post
Shaun Bailey published an open letter in which he accused Mr Agbetu of spreading ‘deeply dangerous information’
Toyin Agbetu (pictured when he stormed to the front of Westminster Abbey during a service attended by the Queen in 2007), 53, were he yelled at the monarch
The activist also published harsh criticism of Mr Lammy, Baroness Scotland and Baroness Amos.
Baroness Scotland is the Secretary General of the Commonwealth and former attorney general under Gordon Brown, while Baroness Amos served as British High Commissioner to Australia.
Mr Agbetu wrote: ‘Lammy, Amos and Scotland are all poor examples of Africans whose quest for influence and status has dwarfed their duty to human rights, social justice for African people and opposition to imperialism.’
The activist was previously known for his 2007 outburst in front of the Queen in 2007, when he shouted ‘you should be ashamed’ during a service at Westminster Abbey.
He also attracted criticism for expressing scepticism about the Pfizer vaccine, saying: ‘We are being encouraged to relax our compliance with these relaxed restrictions because apparently a magical vaccine is around the corner from the Viagra specialists.’
In a video recorded in November, he claimed the Pfizer jab was ‘ethically unsound’ because of a ‘profit over people Government’.
He does not suggest the vaccine is ineffective, but claimed too little was known about it for such an optimistic roll out.
Shaun Bailey penned a letter to Mr Khan asking for Mr Agbetu to be removed from his commission.
He said: ‘When he’s not comparing British people to Nazis, Agbetu is casting doubt on the safety of Pfizer’s vaccine.
‘For the safety of Londoners and the communities that you and I come from, you must remove Agbetu from his post and publicly denounce his lies.’
Mr Bailey said this week he vows to scrap Mr Khan’s diversity commission if he is elected.
In a post alongside the video he labelled the Pfizer coronavirus jab a ‘magical vaccine from the Viagra specialists’
He also highlighted how Agbetu once called the Metropolitan Police ‘institutionally racist’ and branded the army a ‘paid militancy’ in an article written for his human rights agency Ligali.
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: ‘Sadiq makes absolutely no apologies for acting to ensure our public realm reflects the amazing wealth of diversity of our city and our history.
‘We have a basic moral duty to ask questions about whether it’s right for people like slave owners to be disproportionately represented in the public realm.
‘City Hall carried out an open and transparent recruitment process in order to form an inclusive and representative board of the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm.
‘All panel members were assessed for the role by a review panel and a decision made based on what they could bring to the role.
‘Toyin Agbetu was appointed for his significant expertise, knowledge and experience as a social rights activist and in setting up Ligali, which challenges the misrepresentation of African people and culture in the media. His vast experience will provide a valuable contribution to the Commission.’
Mr Agbetu, Ms Abbott and Mr Lammy have been contacted for comment.