One-time Labour leadership contender Chuka Umunna has claimed that British police once beat up his father.
Speaking on a panel at the Fabian Society’s New Year Conference last Saturday, Umunna said that the police beat his father Bennett in a racially motivated attack on the porch of their family home in 1987.
This is what he told the conference:
“My father was beaten black and blue by police on the porch of our family home.”
Umunna told the story to illustrate his belief that the Labour Party shouldn’t talk down its past record.
It was Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw who ordered the public inquiry into murder of Stephen Lawrence that found that London’s Metropolitan Police were “institutionally racist.” As a result of the report, published in 1999, the police have been forced to improve their attitude towards with ethnic minorities.
It’s really interesting that as recently as 1987, the police felt that they could get away with assaulting Umunna’s middle-class father simply because he was black. Bennett, a tribal chief from Nigeria, was a successful businessman, a director of Crystal Palace Football Club, and through his wife had ties to one of the most powerful men in the British establishment.
Bennett emigrated from Nigeria to Britain in the 1960s, studied business administration and set up a successful import and export business. In 1976, he married Chuka’s mother, PatriciaMilmo, the daughter of High Court judge and Nuremberg Trial prosecutor Sir Helenus Milmo. Bennet and Milmo brought up Chukka and his sister in their large family home in Streatham.
Bennet died in a car crash in 1992 while running to be the governor of Anambra state in Nigeria.
It’s not clear if a complaint was made about the assault, and Umunna has not replied