Hackney activist denies racism but resigns from diversity commission

Portrait photo of Toyin Agbetu

Toyin Agbetu has resigned from the Mayor of London’s new Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm. - Credit: Hackney Council

A Hackney activist has resigned from a diversity commission set up by the London mayor, but denied accusations of racism. 

Toyin Agbetu, a scholar-activist, earlier this month announced his appointment to London Mayor Sadiq Khan's Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm, which is looking into the history of statues and landmarks in the capital. 

However, Mr Agbetu has now resigned over accusations of antisemitism in previous statements. 

In a post on his Facebook page, he said: "I can't take the risk that all the gains we have made re BLM (Black Lives Matter) 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, but I have no intention of letting such outrageous lies stand against me (will share some contextual info soon).

"I am also worried about all of you that have supported me over the years. They are going through my posts and articles from 20 years ago and framing them out of context to attack me.

"Hence, now is the time to unfollow or unfriend me."

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He accused some national newspapers of "leading a coordinated attack supported by the Home Office".

Mr Agbetu  was hailed by Hackney Council on February 10 for his role providing "invaluable insight" to the local authority's own review of public spaces linked to slave and plantation owners - Review Rename, Reclaim.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “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 resigned from the Commission for Diversity in the Public Realm and the mayor believes this is the right course of action."