Index on Censorship has named writer and broadcaster Trevor Phillips as its new chair. Phillips succeeds journalist David Aaronovitch whose five-year term ends in September.
Phillips is a writer and television producer. He currently works between the US and the UK, serving as chairman of New York-based think-tank, the Center for Talent Innovation and as president of the council of the John Lewis Partnership. A former chair of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission, Phillips is currently writing a prequel to his successful book Windrush.
“Trevor believes passionately in argument, debate and free expression. He’s not afraid of expressing a view and he’s not afraid of others expressing theirs. He’s a great fit for Index,” said current chair David Aaronovitch.
Previous chairs of Index include the broadcasters Anna Ford and Jonathan Dimbleby.
In the past five years, Aaronovitch has played an active role in debates on the value of free expression, especially in the wake of events such as Charlie Hebdo, and overseen the recruitment of a new chief executive, former Reuters London Bureau Chief Jodie Ginsberg. During his tenure, the organisation has transformed its annual Freedom of Expression Awards into a year-long fellowship programme, and introduced new flagship projects, including training for UK arts organisations on the law and free speech and a European media freedom monitoring project.
“David brought calm humour and good sense to the board and organisation at a time filled with difficult attacks on both the concept of free expression and on those who dare to exercise their precious rights,” board member David Schlesinger said.
Phillips will take over as chair in September as the organisation prepares to increase its work both in the United States and in coverage of issues of censorship online.
“At a time when the world is beset by conflict, and in many cases repression, the case for diversity of voices globally could not be plainer,” said Phillips. “The advent of new technologies has made it more possible for those voices to be heard; but both governments and non-state actors have redoubled their efforts to silence their opponents.”
He added: “For many, the last freedom that will be left is the ability to tell the truth as they see it. Courageous journalists, writers and campaigners are the front line troops in the battle to protect our understanding and insight of what is taking place; and all too many are paying the price in the loss of their own freedoms, and of their own lives. Those of us who enjoy freedom can do more than wring our hands – we can take practical steps to support those who face the threat of being silenced.”
“Index is the premier organisation backing the voices standing up for free expression, and I feel privileged to be asked to succeed my friend David Aaronovitch as chair, and to support the work of Index’s outstanding team.”
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