POLITICS
18/03/2019 13:08 GMT

Tory Chairman Brandon Lewis Asked If He Misled Public Over Islamophobia Complaints

Hope Not Hate writes to party demanding why Lewis said there were "none outstanding" in late 2018.

Tory chairman Brandon Lewis has been asked if he misled the public over the extent of Islamophobia in the party’s rank and file. 

Hope Not Hate’s chief executive Nick Lowles has written to the party boss asking him to explain a statement he made in 2018, saying of Islamophobia complaints there were “none outstanding”. 

It came after the campaigning organisation asked the Conservative Party to launch an independent investigation into Islamophobia amid fury over Boris Johnson’s comments comparing niqab-wearing Muslim women to bank robbers and letter boxes. 

It has since emerged, however, that party members were flagging a series of anti-Muslim incidents with chiefs.  

Lowles writes Lewis’ statement was “all encompassing”, adding: “We took your statement to mean that there were no complaints of Islamophobia outstanding – but we now know that this is not true.” 

He goes on to repeat calls made by Hope Not Hate, the Muslim Council of Britain and Baroness Warsi, a former chairwoman of the party, for an independent inquiry. 

“Were you trying to mislead us, and via the statement, members of the public?,” he says. “Or are your systems and processes so broken that you did not know your statement was untrue when you made it?

“Either way, it appears clear that the time for a proper, independent inquiry into the Conservative Party’s problems with Islamophobia is now. You can show that you take this issue seriously and call that inquiry immediately.” 

Portsmouth South members made several complaints that “minority ethnic members were being bullied, racially abused and cut out of communications to ensure they were not chosen to represent the party”. 

HuffPost UK revealed that Colin Raine, a former Tory council candidate, had posted online about “aggressive muzzies” he claimed were praying in public to “provoke a reaction”.

The party failed to suspend him, despite Bishop Auckland MP Helen Goodman complaining he was behind a far-right protest at her office, and instead allowed his membership to expire. 

A number of complaints raised with the party about posts made by members in a Facebook group, called the Jacob Rees Mogg Supporters’ Group, in 2018 were also not acted upon until earlier this month when 14 members were suspended despite complaints.  

PA Archive/PA Images
Brandon Lewis with Prime Minister Theresa May 

 Baroness Warsi told HuffPost in an interview earlier this month that she believed the party was showing “tell-tale signs” of “institutional Islamophobia” and that she could not encourage young Muslims to join. 

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. 

Tory MP Nicky Morgan has also denied the party has a problem with Islam. “I absolutely do not recognise it,” she told Business Insider. .

HuffPost UK has contacted the party for a response to Hope Not Hate’s letter.