Police launch hate crime probe into Tory Philip Dunne over 'turban' remark to Sikh rival

Posted On: 
29th November 2019

Police have launched an investigation into a Tory general election candidate who accused his Sikh Labour rival of "talking through his turban".

The Conservatives are facing calls to suspend Philip Dunne from the party.

Former minister Philip Dunne sparked outrage after making the comment to Kuldip Sahota at a hustings debate in the Ludlow constituency where he has served as MP for 14 years.

Mr Dunne, who was granted a knighthood by Theresa May in her resignation honours list, apologised “unreservedly” for the offence caused.

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But Mr Sahota revealed on Friday that he has now referred the matter to West Mercia police, and accused the Conservatives of endorsing Sikh prejudice by failing to suspend Mr Dunne.

“The police have suggested Philip Dunne’s racist comment towards me could constitute a hate crime and I am formally reporting it as such,” he said.

“The Conservatives are refusing to suspend Philip Dunne and to strip him of his honour. This further exposes Boris Johnson’s lie that he is taking action against racism in his party. In standing by Philip Dunne, he is endorsing hate and prejudice towards Sikhs.

“His comment about my turban was hateful. He shamed and humiliated me in a public attack on my faith and my community. He did not apologise until I called him out, and even when he did, he showed no humility, no self reflection and no understanding of why his words were racist. He is not fit to be an elected representative in our diverse, multicultural country.”

West Mercia police confirmed they were investigating the incident.

Inspector Saf Ali said: “Officers are currently investigating the report, which is being treated as a hate incident.

"We take reports of such incidents extremely seriously and enquiries are currently ongoing.”

The comments were previously also condemned by Sikh Tories as "simply unacceptable", and by Labour's Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi, the first MP to wear a turban in the Commons.

He said the Conservatives would be condoning “blatant racism” unless they removed Mr Dunne.

In his apology on Thursday, Mr Dunne said: “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused."

The fury over the party’s inaction also comes as the Prime Minister said any party member guilty of racism "are out first bounce".

The Conservative party has been contacted for comment.