Conservative party members suspended over Islamophobia accusations
- Credit: BBC
Conservative Party members have been suspended pending an investigation into Islamophobic posts on social media.
An anonymous tipster passed on the details to the BBC of numerous Tory members who had "shared or supported anti-Muslim posts" on Twitter and Facebook.
The party said it has immediately suspended the members "pending investigation".
Tory MEP Sajjad Karim told the BBC he had been the subject of conversations with "Islamophobic content" between party members, including a current minister.
The question of Islamophobia within the party was put centre stage during the Tory leadership race by Sajid Javid, who persuaded all other candidates to commit to an investigation into the matter during a TV debate.
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Since then, however, the party is still "establishing the terms" of the investigation and the timings and details of any probe would be "guided by the government's review into a definition of Islamophobia".
Energy minister Kwasi Kwarteng told the Today programme that "we are trying to get to grips with this problem".
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He said: "When it was revealed, we took very decisive action, they were suspended. We will look into the case and if there is a cause to expel them, I'm sure they will be expelled."
Asked whether he thinks an independent inquiry is needed, Kwarteng said: "I think the party has enough structure and discipline and focus to try and deal with this problem in the first instance. Obviously this is something that is ongoing.
"I don't know exactly when we will be able to announce what structures we have in order to expel or maintain the suspension of these members, but there is no doubt that we took very summary action when we found out last night what had been going on."
A party spokesperson said: "All those found to be party members have been suspended immediately, pending investigation.
"The Conservative party will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discrimination of any kind.
"That's why we are already establishing the terms of an investigation to make sure that such instances are isolated and robust processes are in place to stamp them out as and when they occur."
Karim told the BBC he has experienced conversations with Islamophobic content "conducted by very senior members of the Conservative Party - in fact parliamentarians, one of whom is in fact a serving minister at this moment in time".
Labour has called for the minister in question to be sacked.
Shadow women and equalities minister Naz Shah said: "Whoever this is, they are not fit to serve as an MP, let alone as a government minister.
"Boris Johnson must act, find out who it is and sack them."
The Conservative party spokesperson added: "The Conservative party will always investigate any allegation put to us."