A Lewisham lecturer has written to the PM calling for an independent public enquiry into the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on the UK's Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities.

Yvonne Field, a Goldsmiths University Social Studies lecturer, is campaigning for a comprehensive investigation into the effect coronavirus is having on BAME people, who are dying at a rate four times as high as white people in some groups.

The letter, which has nearly 400 signatories, including Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Malorie Blackman and Baroness Lawrence, claims the government’s current review has limited focus and lacks transparency.

The letter reads: "We are a broad coalition of individuals united on this vitally important issue.

"We write to you with a solemn petition for an independent public inquiry into the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on the UK’s BAME communities.

"We welcome the NHS’ Race Observatory proposal and Professor Dr Kevin Fenton’s appointment to lead a scientific review of COVID-19 deaths pertaining to BAME frontline staff, particularly those in the NHS, and the broader population in the UK.

"While this data-led review is important from a public health perspective, an independent public inquiry would have a broader scope.

"It would provide a comprehensive exploration of all possible contributing factors that could explain the outsized effect Covid-19 has on BAME communities, killing up to four times as many as white people in some groups."

Where ethnicity is known, BAME people represented 17% of all coronavirus deaths up to May 5 in England.

The 2011 census - the most accurate source - showed that 14.5% of the English population were from BAME backgrounds.

Campaigners say an independent inquiry should cover five major areas: systemic treatment by employers, levels of exposure at work, levels of preparedness, level of investment into BME health and the impact of the Government's emergency powers and social-distancing on BME communities.

The Government announced its own inquiry into the issue in mid April, which will be led by NHS England and Public Health England. 

Alongside her role at Goldsmiths, Yvonne is Founder and CEO of The Ubele Initiative, a BME-led social enterprise which works to build sustainable communities through next generation leadership, community enterprise and the development of new physical spaces.

The letter is a public document and is open for everyone to sign: https://www.ubele.org/weneedanswers