Open letter to Priti Patel - Travellers deserve an apology.

The Traveller Movement and others have written an open letter to the Home Secretary following her recent comments during an online event by the Board Of Deputies for British Jews. Signed by leading academics, race equality organisations and others, the letter calls for a retraction and apology to Gypsies, Roma and Travellers 


Dear Home Secretary, 

Re: Anti-Traveller comments made during online event by Board of Deputies of British Jews 

We write to express our concerns regarding your recent anti-Traveller comments made during an online event with the Board of Deputies of British Jews, where you referred to Travellers on unauthorised sites as criminal and violent.  These comments are completely unacceptable and discriminatory in the extreme, especially coming from a Home Secretary.

Romany Gypsies and Irish Travellers are protected from race discrimination under the Equality Act 2010. We consider your comments during this meeting to constitute hate speech as it brands an entire ethnic group as criminal and violent.  

You have a duty as a public figure to eliminate unlawful discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and encourage good relations between all groups. Your comments not only pit ethnic groups against one another; they also single out an entire ethnic group as criminal and violent.  As you will be aware, Gypsies, Roma and Travellers experience some of the highest levels of discrimination, hate and hostility of all ethnic groups.  

The online hate speech bill in Scotland is currently open for consultation. We ask you to explain how you consider that your comments fit with that bill? How can these communities rely on their experiences being taken seriously when the Home Secretary is wilfully uttering hate speech?  

We recently launched a campaign, with Jewish human rights group Rene Cassin calling for all parliamentarians to sign a pledge to cut out hate speech. We think you should sign that pledge. Find further information here.  

You should also consider supporting Lord Simon Woolley’s recent call for all sitting parliamentarians to receive unconscious bias training. Clearly, it is desperately needed.  

Further, there is no evidence to support your claims that criminality or violence abounds within Traveller sites.   

We call for an immediate retraction of these comments, and a public apology made directly to all Traveller, Gypsy and Roma people.

We look forward to hearing from you. 


Yours sincerely,

Pauline Anderson OBE, Chair of the Traveller Movement  

Yvonne MacNamara, CEO of the Traveller Movement



Baroness Janet Whitaker, Co-chair of the APPG for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma

Martin Docherty-Hughes, Co-chair of the APPG for Gypsies, Travellers and Roma

Lord Simon Woolley, former chair of the Race Disparity Unit’s advisory group

John McDonnell MP

Nadia Whittome MP

Zarah Sultana MP

Claudia Webbe MP

Professor Colin Clark, University of West Scotland   

Dr Sindy Joyce, University of Limerick, Ireland

Chris McDonagh, Travellers Against Racism 

Julie Ward, former MEP

Brian Dalton, CEO Irish in Britain 

Doreen Dove, Gypsy Roma Traveller Social Work Association 

Andrew Nixon, Company Secretary of the Association of Independent Showmen

Mushtaq Khan, BME National Co-ordinator

Jabeer Butt, OBE, Chief Executive, Race Equality Foundation

Ilinca Diaconescu, London Gypsies and Travellers

Martin Gallagher, Irish Traveller activist

Maurice McLeod, CEO Race on the Agenda

Trudy Aspinwall, Travelling Ahead

Gypsy Council UK

Mia Hasenson-Gross, Executive Director, Rene Cassin

Mike Doherty and Lisa Smith, Editors of the Travellers’ Times

Sarah Mann, Director Friends, Families and Travellers

Dr Siobhan Spencer, Derbyshire Gypsy Liaison Group

Southwark Travellers Action Group

Helen Jones, CEO LeedsGate Gypsy and Travellers Exchange 

Johanna Price, chair for National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups   

Charles Kwaku-Odoi, Chief Officer at Caribbean and African Health Network

Professor Margaret Greenfields

Professor Kalwant Bhopal, University of Birmingham

Dr Martin Myers, University of Nottingham

Chrissie Browne, Widening Participation Officer, Kings College London

Jenni Formby

Adrian Jones, National Federation of Gypsy Liaison Groups   

Article 12, Scotland

Rose Simkins, Chief Executive Stop Hate UK

Natalie Fenton, Goldsmiths University

Professor Imagen Tylor, Lancaster University 

Matt Smith, TravellerSpace

UK Jews of Colour Sephardi and Mizrachi United

Black Jewish Lives UK

XR Jews

Josie O Driscoll, Chief Officer Hertfordshire Gypsy Traveller Project

Rose Marie Maughan, Irish Traveller, County Louth, Ireland

Muslim engagement & development

Julian S Morley

Dr Roisin Byrne

Sherrie Smith, Gypsy-Travellers Essex

Professor Brian Cathcart, Kingston University London. 

Dr. Sophie Allen, Keel University 

Cllr Sally Hinkley, Bexley, London 

Karen Lawerence

Allison Hulmes, Gypsy Roma Traveller Social Work Association 

Jackie Bolton, Gypsy Roma Traveller Social Work Association 

Gemma Lamb

Jenny Manson & Leah Levane, co-chairs Jewish Voice for Labour

Dr Andrew O Baoill, NUI Galway Ireland

Charlotte Mounsey

Helen Belcher, Chair TransActual CIC

Wendy Mounsey

Gemma Mounsey

Chelsea Johnson, Essex

Alice Oatfield,

Llwela Parri, Performing Arts Tutor

Chris Kidd

Alexandra Fiddes

Pongo Pigpen-

Michael Szpakowski, artist 

Ciara Bud

Zaid Green

Michael Lomotey

Marie Bowers, Edinburgh University 

Bozevannah Boswell, Undergraduate student 

Mx Sephe Stewart, Scottish Traveller 

Thomas McDonagh

Ann McDonagh

Aahlegish Lally-

Kevin McDermott-Eire

Rebecca Jackson- Galway Eire

Anne Marie Silbigner, Poet, Limerick, Ireland

Sarah Fox, London 

Chleo Mulcahey, Teacher

Tom Cardwell, Marketing Professional 

Erik Fennly

Kate Chandler, Engagement Coordinator 

Ruth Watson

Scarlett Assvadian

Valerie Mackenzie, Aberdeen, Scotland 

Neill Chisman

Nicola Siddall-Collier

Will James Byrne

Dr Lynne Tammi

Kevin Blowe, Network for Police Monitoring

Marcia L. Moran

Solma Ahmed

Aycan Akyuz

David Konyot

Chris Barltrop

Huw Sawyer, business writer

John Austin, former MP

Catherine Mitchell

Revd Robert Beard

Ben Goren

Natalie Forster