PUBLIC SECT0R: Disability body prepares for equality work

The Disability Rights Commission has recruited a new media chief as it prepares to step up campaigning surrounding a possible single equality body.

University College London head of media Patrick Edwards takes up the same role at the DRC in January, just a month before the expected end to Government consultation over plans to set up the new body.

If the Government ploughs ahead with the plan, the DRC will argue that a single body must be backed up by firmer legislation to even up current discrimination laws.

A spokesman for the DRCpointed to workplace discrimination legislation as one example of lack of parity. If someone successfully proves they have been discriminated against on racial grounds they are entitled to ask for their job back. Disabled complainants, however, are not.

'That's just one example. If this body is set up there must be a levelling up in equality legislation,' said the spokesman.

The setting up of a single body is likely to lead to the scrapping of the DRC, which is headed by chairman Bert Massie, and its merger with the Commission for Racial Equality. Discrimination on grounds of gender, sexual orientation and age would also be covered.

Before joining UCL Edwards, who was unavailable for comment as PRWeek went to press, worked as a PRO for the Stephen Lawrence Family Campaign. He replaces Alyson Rose, who remains at the DRC as a senior PRO, after requesting a more 'operational role'.

Meanwhile plans to appoint a parliamentary affairs manager have been sidelined after a failed attempt to recruit into the role.

Lobbying work surrounding the single equality body will be coordinated by assistant director of public affairs Agnes Fletcher, who was formerly parliamentary affairs manager before being promoted during the summer.

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