Zac Goldsmith claims rising crime is the reason he warned ethnic minority Londoners their jewellery would be under threat if Sadiq Khan becomes mayor.
The Tory Mayoral candidate was blasted for “scaremongering” after sending leaflets to Indian and Sri Lankan Londoners claiming his Labour rival supports a wealth tax aimed at “family heirlooms and belongings.”
But in a recording obtained by the Huffington Post UK, Goldsmith justifies the claim by arguing he was trying to deal with concerns over burglaries – which he admitted had been on the rise in London under Tory Mayor Boris Johnson.
Speaking at a gathering of Asian business people last Friday, Goldsmith was asked by BBC Radio Asian Network’s DJ Nihal if he would like to apologise for the leaflet.
He replied: “Not at all. Not at all. My job over the next 48 days is to reach out to every single part of London, and that means reaching out to every part of the community within London.
“I have not had an event, a public meeting, or a breakfast, coffee morning or any kind of session with members of the British Indian community where concerns around crime, concerns around burglary, fears of the fact that people's homes are being targeted because it is disproportionate
Nihal said: “Isn't it scaremongering though Zac? Burglaries have gone down.”
Goldsmith replied: “No that's not true. They’ve gone up. Unfortunately in the last six months, burglaries have gone up, as have most forms of crime across London.”
Metropolitan Police statistics show the number of reported burglaries in London increased by almost 500 from August last year to February 2016 – from 5,5381 to 5,859 a month.
In November last year, there were 6,785 burglaries – the highest number for 11 months.
Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark Neil Coyle said: “Zac Goldsmith has admitted what most Londoners already fear – that with a Tory Mayor and a Tory Government London’s streets and homes are becoming less safe.
“On the Tories’ watch, neighbourhood policing has been stripped back. Zac Goldsmith is failing to stand up for Londoners and like Boris Johnson he is happy to do nothing as George Osborne continues to cut Metropolitan Police funding.
“The fact that he has only made this admission at a private event in trying to justify a controversial leaflet which targeted specific ethnic communities shows what a dishonest and insubstantial politician Zac Goldsmith is. He’s not fit to be Mayor of London.”