Trevor Phillips will be head of the new Commission for Equalities and Human Rights when it is launched next year, according to reports.
The Guardian newspaper claims that Phillips, currently chairman of the CRE, met officials from the Department for Communities and Local Government last week to discuss the new role.
Phillips, who once claimed the Commission for Equalities and Human Rights was a train-wreck waiting to happen, was reportedly on a shortlist of three people, including civil rights campaigner and director of Liberty Shami Chakrabati, and Baroness Prosser, who oversaw the recent Women and Work Commission.
A CRE spokeswoman said it would not comment on leaked reports.
Phillips will be a controversial choice – some race activists are campaigning to stop him getting into the post.
Website Black Information Links said campaigners were furious that the government “has chosen a Labour lapdog with no grassroots support to head the £70m super-equalities body”.
London Mayor Ken Livingstone last week accused Phillips of being so right wing he could soon join the BNP, as well as being a “shameless publicist”.
The chair of the CRE has also drawn criticism for suggesting positive discrimination should be allowed in recruitment. In January Personnel Today revealed Phillips was on the advisory board of a recruitment company that refused to take white applicants.
CRE chief backs recruiter with an unlawful ‘no whites’ policy