Tories suspend fresh batch of members over latest anti-Muslim Facebook posts
The Conservatives have been forced to suspend another batch of party members over allegations of Islamophobia.
Twenty-five self-identifying party members were reported to Tory HQ after a string of anti-Muslim posts were unearthed on the unofficial 'Jacob Rees-Mogg Supporters Group' Facebook group.
The comments - brought to light by the @MatesJacob Twitter account and passed on to party HQ by BuzzFeed news - included one from a man who posted a photo of himself campaigning for the party and who had joked about killing Muslims.
He had said: "I was going through a few magazines the other day down at the local Mosque. I was really enjoying myself. Then the rifle jammed."
One woman who identified as Conservative member meanwhile said: "No Muslim will get my vote."
A Conservative spokesperson said: "We were aware of this matter, and action has been taken.
"Party members who have been found to have made inappropriate comments have been suspended pending further investigation."
The party suspended 14 members last month over posts on the same Facebook group, including a call to "get rid of all mosques" and a member who demanded that a group of Muslims be thrown off a bridge.
The latest suspensions come after anti-racism charity Hope Not Hate wrote to Conservative chairman Brandon Lewis pushing for "clarification" on his claim in November last year that the party had no "outstanding" complaints of Islamophobia.
Hope Not Hate chief executive Nick Lowles said that there had since been "multiple media reports about outstanding complaints" dating back to last year, and said it was "essential that you clear up exactly why you told Hope Not Hate that there were no outstanding complaints when clearly there were".
He asked: "Were you trying to mislead us, and via the statement, members of the public?
"Or are your systems and processes so broken that you did not know your statement was untrue when you made it?"
In his reply, Mr Lewis said he was the party was committed to "fostering the principles of tolerance and opportunity for all".
He added: "The party's complaints process is robust and allows us to deal with allegations of behaviour that fall below our high standards.
"We take swift action when complaints are made to CCHQ, immediately referring them for investigation.
"That was the case in November 2018, and continues to be the case today.
"Investigations are rightly kept confidential and may vary in length, so we cannot and will not provide a running commentary on individual cases.
"However, as you have no doubt seen, sanctions include suspensions and expulsions."
But Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative co-chair who has frequently attacked the party's handling of anti-Muslim abuse in recent months, said the Tories' complaints system remained "opaque and mired in bureaucracy".
She told BuzzFeed: "There is no clarity on which complaint has been considered, what action was taken and no transparency of eventual outcome.
"This is what makes this issue of Islamophobia institutional — the party as an organisation is failing those that raise concerns."