PM’s ethics advisor takes over investigation into Islamophobia claims

3/14/2023 4:55 PM

An investigation into allegations of Islamophobia within the Conservative Party has been handed over to Rishi Sunak's ethics adviser.  

Sir Laurie Magnus, appointed by the prime minister in December, will continue investigating allegations made by former transport minister Nusrat Ghani.  

In January last year, Ghani alleged that when she was sacked as minister in 2020, a government whip said her 'Muslimness' was 'making colleagues uncomfortable.'  

Johnson ordered a Cabinet Office inquiry into the allegations but the probe was delayed following the resignation of then-PM Boris Johnson's ethics adviser Lord Geidt.  

On Wednesday, Marcial Boo, who leads the Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), said the organisation would follow up on the investigation with Sir Laurie.  

Last week, the Labour Party urged Tory chairman Greg Hands to hasten the investigation.  

Anneliese Dodds, the chairwoman of the Labour Party, said it was a “disgrace” the investigation has failed to conclude a year after it was started.  

She warned that if Ghani's allegations were not properly investigated, it would undermine Sunak's claims to run a government of "professionalism, integrity, and accountability at all levels."

Dodds added the delay "tells you everything you need to know about the Conservatives' commitment to tackling Islamophobia."  

Islamophobia in the Tory party  

Mark Spencer, who was identified as the whip that made the alleged comments, denied the allegations when they were made.

He had said the claims were "completely false and I consider them to be defamatory".  

Spencer currently serves as the food, farming, and fisheries minister. Ghani has also been brought back into government as a business minister.  

Sympathy for Ghani from the Muslim community has been thin on the ground, given that she is a member of a party with a history of being accused of having a problem with Islamophobia.  

During the 2019 leadership election, Johnson pledged a specific investigation into Islamophobia, only to downgrade it into an inquiry into all forms of discrimination.  

The subsequent Singh Review, published in May 2021, found that Islamophobia in the Tory party is a problem.  

Muslims have been amongst the most targeted group for religious hate crimes for each of the past five years.  

According to government data, there was a 28% increase in religiously motivated hate crimes aimed at Muslims last year. It accounted for 42% of all reported religious hate crimes in 2021/22.