oris Johnson’s most senior black adviser has resigned, it emerged today, as No 10 faced a backlash over a landmark report into racial disparities.
Samuel Kasumu, No 10’s special adviser for civil society and communities, resigned last week and informed colleagues of his decision on Tuesday morning, according to Politico.
Mr Kasumu is expected to stay in post until May to continue work on improving vaccine uptake in minority groups.
He has reportedly been unhappy in government for some time and a resignation letter was released to the Press in February in which he cited “unbearable” tension in Downing Street, but he was reportedly persuaded to stay on.
A Downing Street spokesperson said any suggestion that his resignation was linked to the report “is completely inaccurate”.
Former equality and human rights commissioner Lord Woolley, who knows Mr Kasumu, said he had been “disheartened” with his role. He told BBC News there is a “crisis at No 10 when it comes to acknowledging and dealing with persistent race inequality”.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan told Times Radio she did not know who Mr Kasumu was, before later telling ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I can’t defend or talk about why he has resigned, it is a personal matter. It’s a matter for him.”
The study was set up after Black Lives Matter protests last year. A section of the report that claimed there was a new story to be told about the “slave period”, which was not just about “profit and suffering”, has been criticised for “glorifying” the slave trade.
Ms Keegan was forced to defend the study this morning, telling Sky News: “It doesn’t glorify the slave trade.”
She added: “It did recognise the inhumanity of slavery, it did make many recommendations about how we educate and teach young people about slavery.”
A No 10 spokesperson said: “Mr Kasumu has played an incredibly valuable role during his time at No 10. As he previously set out, he will be leaving government in May – this has been his plan for several months and has not changed.
“Any suggestion that this decision has been made this week or that this is linked to the CRED report is completely inaccurate.”