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 Friday, 17 January, 2003, 14:18 GMT
Profile: Trevor Phillips
Phillips was awarded the OBE in 1999
Trevor Phillips was always a strong candidate to become the new chair of the Commission for Racial Equality.

The former broadcaster was said to be Tony Blair's preferred choice for the role - and Downing Street has the final say on the job.

And despite some run-ins with David Blunkett, the home secretary - who makes the decision - was also said to have been keen on the appointment.

Phillips joined the London Assembly in 2000
Mr Phillips sought the nomination to be the Labour's candidate for London mayor in 2000 - eventually standing as Frank Dobson's deputy.

Following his subsequent election to the London Assembly, he was appointed as chair of the new body.

Mr Phillips had joined Labour in 1996 having become a familiar figure for Londoners through his work on LWT's London Programme.

He is a close friend of former Northern Ireland Secretary Peter Mandelson, who was the best man at his wedding.

Targets

The former head of the National Union of Students has pressed Labour leaders to set targets for increasing the number of black and Asian politicians, saying more needed to be done to help aspiring politicians from minority communities.

He said he was against quotas - "I don't want to have people brought in simply because they are black or Asian" - but said the party should set targets.

He once criticised devolved assemblies in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London as "virtually whites-only areas".

Of his role as chair of the London Assembly, he says he draws on his skills as a television journalist to hold London Mayor Ken Livingstone to account.

"That's what I do in my professional life," he told BBC News Online in 2000. "I'm an investigator."

Ambition

"I ask questions, and a large part of my life has been spent asking questions of Ken Livingstone."

In the same interview, he said he had no ambitions to be an MP but that he would like to be London mayor.

"There's no secret about my ambition," he said. "I do not want to go into the House of Commons. My only real political interest is in London and if one day I'm in a position to run for mayor, then terrific."

Mr Phillips is a member of the Runnymede Trust and a member of the Royal Television Society.

He is a trustee of the Bernie Grant Centre and of the Ethnic Minorities Foundation. He is on the Council of Ethnic Minority Voluntary Organisations.

He was awarded the OBE in 1999.

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