Conservative Party publishes terms for discrimination review

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The Conservatives have set out further details of their inquiry into how the party handles discrimination allegations.

The party said the review, led by academic Professor Swaran Singh, would examine the "nature and extent" of complaints since 2015.

It will also consider what sanctions could be taken against members who quit the party before being investigated.

But the scope of the inquiry has been criticised by a leading Muslim group.

The review was announced in December following a commitment by Boris Johnson to examine allegations of Islamophobia within the party.

Although the terms of reference state it will "specifically" review allegations of discrimination against Muslims, other forms of harassment or victimisation will also be considered.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission said it would monitor the review and did not "rule out" launching its own probe "if we are not satisfied with progress".

A spokesperson added: "We have concluded, in the light of the decision by the party to institute an independent investigation, that it would not be proportionate to initiate our own investigation at this stage."

The watchdog, which is currently investigating anti-Semitism allegations within Labour, has previously faced calls to intervene from the Muslim Council of Britain.

'Toxic culture'

The umbrella group of UK Muslim bodies accused the Conservatives of "deceiving" the EHRC, calling the terms of reference for its inquiry a "facade".

"In reality the majority of the issue has already been dismissed," said Harun Khan, the group's secretary-general.

"By restricting the terms to an inquiry merely into the complaints received, the party is choosing to summarily dismiss all the issues of the toxic culture of racism that have been raised by the Muslim Council of Britain."

And the former Conservative minister and party chairwoman Baroness Warsi, an outspoken critic of its handling of Islamophobia allegations, said the terms of reference were long overdue.

Writing on Twitter, she said: "A decade on from my first Cabinet meeting, tragically my party finds itself mired in allegations of racism and Islamophobia.

"Hoping this is the start of the end of us harbouring those with vile views in our ranks", she said.

The latest review will will be conducted in private, with a timetable set by Prof Singh, a Social and Community Psychiatry academic at the University of Warwick.

'Positive step forward'

It will consider allegations of discrimination relating to all "protected characteristics" in the 2010 Equalities Act - including religion but also including age, race, sexual orientation, and disability.

Conservative co-chairman Amanda Milling said the publication of the terms of reference for the review was a "positive step forward" in the inquiry.

She added that the party "will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discrimination of any kind".

"The Conservative Party is committed to ensuring everyone's rights are respected and everyone is treated with fairness and dignity."

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