Conservative Party chairman Brandon Lewis has been asked if he misled the public over his claim that all complaints about incidents of Islamophobia by party members had been dealt with.
Anti-racism campaign group Hope Not Hate has written to Mr Lewis calling for “clarification” after he stated in November: “We deal with complaints, none outstanding.”
Nick Lowles, the group’s chief executive, said he took the statement to mean there were “no complaints of Islamophobia outstanding”, but said: “We now know that this is not true.”
He said there had since been “multiple media reports about outstanding complaints” occurring during the time Mr Lewis made the statement.
We deal with complaints, none outstanding.
— Brandon Lewis (@BrandonLewis) November 7, 2018
Mr Lowles wrote: “Given the seriousness of the problem that the Conservative Party is facing with incidents of Islamophobia by its members, and widespread concern about the behaviour of Boris Johnson MP and Zac Goldsmith MP, it is essential that you clear up exactly why you told Hope Not Hate that there were no outstanding complaints when clearly there were.
“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?
“Either way, it appears clear that the time for a proper, independent inquiry into the Conservative Party’s problems with Islamophobia is now.
“You can show that you take this issue seriously and call that inquiry immediately.”
In his reply, Mr Lewis said he was “determined” that the Tories “take the lead in 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.”
It comes amid heavy criticism over the Conservative Party’s handling of Islamophobia, with senior Tory peer Baroness Warsi calling for an independent inquiry into “institutional” Islamophobia in the party.