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Fri, 3 July 2020

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Equalities watchdog drops probe into Tory Islamophobia after party sets out plans for independent investigation

Equalities watchdog drops probe into Tory Islamophobia after party sets out plans for independent investigation

The EHRC has said it will not launch its own investigation into the Conservative Party

2 min read

The UK's equality watchdog has dropped plans to launch a probe into Tory Islamophobia after the party set out new details on its independent investigation.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it would "not be proportionate" to carry out its own inquiry after the Conservatives confirmed the terms of reference for theirs.

The party initially announced in December that psychiatary Professor Swaran Singh would chair an investigation following complaints they had failed to tackle all forms of racism within its ranks.

But in a further a statement on Tuesday a spokesperson confirmed the professor would be tasked with looking into the "nature and extent of complaints" against the party, including allegations of discrimation because of someone's "religion or belief and significantly Islam".

And the party said the probe would also examine how it had responded to complaints and whether any sanctions taken against members were proportionate.

The update comes after the Muslim Council of Britain, hit out at the EHRC for failing to get involved.

Writing to the watchdog in March, the group said it had provided "overwhelming evidence" the party may have breached the Equality Act in its handling of cases, saying racism against Muslims have become "widespread, institutional and systemic" within the party.

In a statement on Tuesday the EHRC said: "We have given very careful consideration to complaints raised about discrimination and islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

"We have concluded, in the light of the decision by the Party to institute and independent investigation, that it would not be proportionate to initiate our own investigation at this stage.

"We will be monitoring the review and requiring the party to provide regular updates on progress."

Meanwhile, the watchdog - which is currently investigating Labour over its handling of anti-semitism within the party - said they would "not rule out" using their legal powers against the Conservatives if they were unhappy with the progress of the probe.

Responding to the announcement, Professor Singh, said: "I'm happy that the terms of reference for the investigation have been agreed and I will now begin work on the next stage of the investigation."

Conservative co-chair Amanda Milling added: "This is another positive step forward in Professor Singh’s investigation into all forms of prejudice and discrimination.

"The Conservative Party will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discrimination of any kind. 

"It is why we are committed to this investigation, to ensure that any abuse that is not fit for public life is stamped out.

"The Conservative Party is committed to ensuring everyone’s rights are respected and everyone is treated with fairness and dignity."

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