Equalities watchdog demands details from Tories over Islamophobia complaints

Posted On: 
17th May 2019

Equalities watchdogs have demanded information from the Conservatives about complaints of Islamophobia within party ranks.

The Conservatives have suspended dozens of members over allegations of Islamophobia
PA Images

In a letter to the party, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the Tories have one month to respond to the request for details, ITV news first revealed.

The Conservatives have been under fire in recent months over alleged incidents of Islamophobia in the party, with Tory chiefs forced to suspend dozens of members for abuse.

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It is understood the correspondence follows a standard process as part of the watchdog’s complaints procedure.

A Conservative party spokesperson said: “The Conservative party will always be happy to work with organisations who support equality, tolerance and human rights.”

On Wednesday, MPs attacked the Government after it refused to adopt a definition of Islamophobia recommended by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims.

The definition has been formally endorsed by Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish Conservatives, as well as over 750 British Muslim organisations, 80 academics and 50 MPs.

However the Government said “further consideration” was needed, and noted concerns over freedom of speech and the impact of combining racism and religion.

In a Commons debate on Wednesday, Labour MP Wes Streeting, the APPG chair, said ministers had "no more credibility to define Islamophobia than the Labour party had to redefine anti-semitism".

He added: "It is time for the Government to get this agreed so that we can get on with tackling Islamophobia and creating a society in which everyone can flourish, regardless of their background."

But Communities Secretary James Brokenshire said: "It is clear that with such a complex issue, we need to interrogate this further as a matter of urgency."

The move comes as the EHRC mulls whether to launch a formal investigation into anti-semitimism within the Labour party.

Labour had responded to the watchdog after it raised concerns the party had "unlawfully discriminated" against people because of their ethnicity and religious beliefs. It is now waiting for a verdict over whether a full probe is required.