Police were called to a night out for young Conservative supporters after a fight broke out following the arrival of a party member who had claimed “Islam poisons the mind”.
HuffPost UK has been told the networking event descended into violence after Tory member Hebing Wang joined more than 100 other Conservative activists at the Walkers of Whitehall pub on Thursday.
A woman threw a glass of wine over Wang, prompting punches to be thrown and a glass to be smashed before a member of the bar staff intervened and the police were called.
The event had been organised by Stephen Canning, a Conservative Essex County Councillor currently suspended from the party after a separate altercation in a West End club earlier this year.
Wang told HuffPost UK she strongly rejected any suggestion she was racist, and in a statement said: “I understand how the comments’ implications and I apologise for any offense caused. Please understand: I have nothing against group of people for any reason.
“I’ve never spewed vitriol or acted out of malice at any group of people.
“However, I’m extremely against the mindset that a religion should be tied to a specific ethnic group.
“To be frank, it is extremely racist to assume someone’s ethnicity based on their beliefs or vice versa.
“For Islamphobia to stop we must first stop tying a religion to people of color.
“For someone to assume my comments are racially motivated and attack me as if I were being racially biased is genuinely laughably ironic.”
As well as Wang, who made the anti-Islam comments on Facebook, a Tory activist called Michael Brooks was also present.
Brooks, who attended the Conservative conference last year and was snapped alongside Jacob Rees-Mogg, was outed by anti-fascist group Hope Not Hate in November as posting offensive content in a right-wing “free speech” Facebook group called the Young Right Society.
He is reported to have posted a graph to the group showing a supposed increase in the population of sub-Saharan Africa with the caption: “Planet of the Apes isn’t science fiction, it’s a warning.”
He also described himself using codes associated with Nazism.
The social event, labelled as ‘Young Tories Free Drinks - Westminster Edition’ on Facebook, was intended to be a networking event for activists – many of which many who had been out campaigning for the party ahead of the London elections in May.
Also present were James Price of the TaxPayers’ Alliance and Matt Kilcoyne of the Adam Smith Institute - both of whom gave speeches.
Marina Muttik, the Conservative member who called the police, tried to play down the incident.
The 22-year-old told HuffPost UK: “It was a personal argument between the two, they hadn’t spoken to each other and then one poured a glass of wine over another’s head.
“There was a bit of a tiff but it stopped pretty quickly.
“I called the police as I didn’t think it was appropriate behaviour.”
Muttik, who has been a party member for six years, added: “It calmed down quite quickly, and the girl who threw the wine left soon after.”
Canning told HuffPost UK he had no knowledge of Brooks’ background, and as it was held in a pub people were free to just turn up.
He said: “Was there to be an invite-list, that sort of person wouldn’t be invited.”
The event was not affiliated to Conservative HQ.
The Tories are keen to make themselves more youth-friendly, with many senior figures calling for a Conservative-version of the Jeremy Corbyn-backing Momentum group.
In the January reshuffle, Theresa May appointed Mansfield MP Ben Bradley as vice-chairman for youth engagement.
But within weeks of getting the job he was forced to apologise for old blog posts in which he said unemployed people should consider getting vasectomies.