Tory Chairman Accused Of Covering Up Islamophobia In The Party

Brandon Lewis has displayed a "classic trait of institutional racism", according to ex-cabinet minister Baroness Warsi.

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis has been accused by a former cabinet minister of covering up the extent of Islamophobia in the party.

Baroness Warsi accused Lewis of displaying a “classic trait of institutional racism” after he refused to reveal the number of complaints about anti-Muslim incidents, or how many members have been suspended or expelled from the party.

The peer, who was the first female Muslim cabinet minister and was herself Tory chairman under David Cameron, said she had agreed to keep quiet about Islamophobia to “work with the party” to resolve the problem.

But she broke her month-long silence after Lewis refused to reveal the extent of the problem in a Sunday broadcast interview, saying only there had been a “very, very small number” of complaints about members.

In a series of tweets, Warsi said: “This is what a cover up looks like and a classic trait of institutional racism.”

Warsi said she was speaking out due to Lewis’s “evasive and opaque” approach, adding: “A month on I am no clearer as to the number of complaints, the timeframe for dealing with them, the process, the basis upon which decisions are made, the number of suspensions, the number of expulsions, the numbers readmitted and the basis of readmission.

“It reeks of a cover-up”.

Lewis was asked last month by anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate if he had misled the public over the extent of Islamophobia in the party after he claimed in November that there were no cases outstanding, despite members continuing to raise anti-Muslim incidents with chiefs.

The Conservative party has strongly rejected all claims that Muslim hatred is a widespread problem in the party and has insisted it deals with complaints swiftly.

Appearing on BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Lewis said: “We believe in actually trying to change behaviour. I think as a country, and particularly social media more generally, we should be looking to change behaviour.

“And if somebody shows contrition, apologises, understands why what they did was wrong and doesn’t reoffend, I think, like our general justice system, people do have the opportunity to have a second chance.”

He added: “My main focus, I have to say, is on making sure that any form of abuse, whatever it is, is dealt with quickly, firmly, so people understand that it is not acceptable in the Conservative party, and if you want to behave that way there’s no place for you in our party.”

A Conservative spokesperson said: “Discrimination or abuse of any kind is wrong.

“When CCHQ (Conservative central headquarters) has been made aware of the small number of such cases we have acted swiftly, suspending members and launching immediate investigations, in sharp contrast to other parties.

“Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one but there are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour, including suspension and expulsion, and these are applied on a case-by-case basis.”


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