Rebecca Hilsenrath

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Person.png Rebecca Hilsenrath LinkedIn TwitterRdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Rebecca Hilsenrath.jpg
Alma materUniversity of Cambridge

Employment.png CEO link= executive officer

In office
October 2015 - March 2021

Employment.png Chief Legal Officer

In office
March 2014 - January 2019

Employment.png CEO link= executive officer

In office
September 2008 - March 2014

Employment.png Legal Advisor

In office
April 2001 - August 2008
EmployerTreasury Solicitor's Department

Rebecca Hilsenrath is Director of External Affairs, Strategy and Communications at the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO).[1] She was formerly CEO and Chief Legal Officer of the Equality and Human Rights Commission.[2]


Rebecca Hilsenrath has written for The Telegraph.[3]

2013 interview

Interviewed on 6 November 2013, and asked who had been the biggest single influence or inspiration in her career and why, Rebecca Hilsenrath replied:

"A line-manager I had in the Government Legal Service who was prepared to admit to clients in front of me that a mistake they had identified in my work was his not mine. It taught me that you can be a bigger person and command more respect by admitting to error."[4]

Strong Jewish presence

On 12 May 2016, the Jewish Chronicle reported:

"There is a strong Jewish presence at the top of Britain's equality watchdog. David Isaac, new chairman of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, took up office this week, joining Rebecca Hilsenrath, who was made CEO of the body last autumn."[5]

Investigating the Labour Party

At an EHRC board meeting in January 2019, a potential probe into anti-semitism in the Labour Party was discussed and commission chief executive Rebecca Hilsenrath reminded colleagues that she was “an active member of the Anglo-Jewish community.”

The minutes go on to record:

“Although the board was content that this did not represent a substantive conflict of interest, there was concern that there could be a perception of bias and therefore Rebecca Hilsenrath agreed to recuse herself from determination in relation to this matter.”

By the time Ms Hilsenrath stepped down, the EHRC had been in receipt of the Campaign Against Antisemitism’s request to open a statutory investigation into Labour for over two months.

The EHRC had already made some “progress” on the matter and when Ms Hilsenrath stepped aside, the board agreed it was the chairman, Mr Isaac, who should “provide direction” to the commission on the next steps regarding “an investigation into anti-semitism in the Labour Party.”

They went on to announce publicly in March 2019 that a probe was being contemplated before officially launching one in May 2019.

A spokeswoman from the EHRC told the Star:

“Our chief executive has not been involved in any of the decision-making regarding the opening of this investigation.”

Last week, that probe escalated dramatically following the broadcast of BBC Panorama’s controversial documentary "Is Labour Anti-Semitic?"

Many of the people who spoke to the BBC are also repeating their allegations to the EHRC.

Although Ms Hilsenrath distanced herself from the probe ahead of its launch, her views about alleged anti-semitism in Labour are already well known.

She hit out after the party’s annual conference in 2017, tweeting from the EHRC’s official account:

Anti-semitism is racism and the Labour Party needs to do more to establish that it is not a racist party.
“A zero-tolerance approach to anti-semitism should mean just that.”

She went on to say:

“The leadership should take swift action. It is simply not acceptable to say they oppose these views … more needs to be done to root out anti-semitic views that clearly exist in the party.”

Antony Lerman, former founding director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research, has previously raised concerns that such a statement made Ms Hilsenrath unsuitable to lead a probe into Labour.

“Prior to investigation, is it not worrying that the CEO already claims to know what the Labour Party needs to do?” Mr Lerman wrote in an article for political website OpenDemocracy.[6]


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Fears over conflicts of interest at top of watchdog probing Labour anti-semitismArticle16 July 2019Phil MillerSo why would the EHRC decide to investigate Labour for anti-semitism, when the polls showed it had actually dropped, and not probe the Conservatives or UKIP, whose members displayed Islamophobia?
Document:Racist and Cruel - The Nasty World of the Equality and Human Rights CommissionArticle30 May 2016David HenckeI think the EHRC is becoming part of the new nasty Britain. It will issue fine words but do nothing practical about the plight of people because it won't have the staff to do it. It is all part of turning the country into a place where the wealthy feel comfortable and the rest have to scavenge to survive. The only added twist is that the well paid people at the top of this pyramid at the ECHR are being paid out of ordinary people's taxes.
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