Election 2019

Conservative Party names discrimination inquiry chief

Conservative rosette Image copyright Reuters

The Conservatives have appointed a psychiatry professor to lead its inquiry into Islamophobia and other forms of prejudice within the party.

The party said Prof Swaran Singh would look at how it handles complaints, and tries to clamp down on discrimination.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously pledged the investigation would get underway before Christmas.

Tory party chairman James Cleverly said it would help the party "stamp out unacceptable abuse".

Prof Singh is a former commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the watchdog currently investigating anti-Semitism allegations within Labour.

He has been a professor in Social and Community Psychiatry at the University of Warwick since 2006.

Announcing the appointment, Mr Cleverly said: "The Conservative Party has always worked to act swiftly when allegations have been put to us".

"There are a wide range of sanctions to challenge and change behaviour," he added.

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

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), an umbrella group of various UK Muslim bodies, has accused the party of "denial, dismissal and deceit" over the issue of Islamophobia, and said it had a "blind spot for this type of racism".

The group has previously called for Islamophobia allegations in the Conservative Party to be investigated by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission.

Mr Johnson has defended the party's processes for handling complaints, saying members guilty of Islamophobia "are out first bounce".

However he has faced accusations of Islamophobia himself, after writing in a newspaper column last year that Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes".

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