The Equal Opportunities Commission said it would investigate a decision by the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone to reject the appointment of eight men and a single white female to the London Fire Authority because it failed to tackle the under-representation of women and black, Asian and ethnic minority Londoners.
Livingstone asked Liberal Democrats and Conservatives from London councils and the London Assembly to reconsider their nominations to the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority.
The Mayor insisted that he received legal advice stating that there were strong grounds for concern about whether statutory duties to promote equality had been carried out by the councils.
“I just do not believe that it is impossible to find more black and Asian people to serve on the fire authority, or that there are not more women who wish to participate,” he said.
“It is unacceptable that when there are 1,861 councillors in London, of whom 555 are women and 293 from black, Asian and ethnic minority groups, all seven Conservative nominees to the fire authority are white and include only one woman, and all three Liberal Democrat nominees are white men,” he added.
Civil rights group Liberty and Law said that by discriminating in favour of Conservative Cllr Rebekah Gilbert in her appointment and against her white male colleagues, London’s Mayor may be in breach of both the Sex Discrimination Act and the Race Relations Act.
An EOC spokesperson said: “We have had a complaint regarding appointments to the London Fire and Emergency Planning Authority. The case will be referred to the EOC’s legal committee.”