In praise of Trevor Phillips, the Islamic Human Rights Commission’s latest target

One of the nicest things in life is the discovery that one-time enemies are in fact terrific, brave people who you might have been wrong about and have grown to respect. For instance, when I was growing up I had a rather marked dislike of Germaine Greer. Then, in recent years, I discovered she was one of the only adults left in the room. Likewise Trevor Phillips. When he was head of the Equalities and Human Rights Commission we often used to find ourselves at loggerheads. I recall a panel many years ago when, sitting in the green room beforehand, one of the other panellists asked me what I did. Trevor butted in, with sad accuracy, ‘Douglas’s job is to try to make me lose my job’. He was always enormously likeable, even when we were in disagreement. But then once again, in recent years as other people everywhere appeared to go weak in the head, Trevor Phillips turns out to be among the few adults left in the room. His interventions in Britain’s public debate these days are always thoughtful, humane, informed and always worth listening to.

So of course the Khomeinists in the preposterously mis-titled ‘Islamic Human Rights Commission’ have decided to put him in their sights. Specifically, they recently named him as a contender for their ‘Islamophobe of the Year’ award.