An investigation into the Conservative Party’s handling of complaints of Islamophobia has been accused of ignoring individuals who wanted to present damning evidence, raising fears of money laundering.
The independent inquiry, commissioned by Boris Johnson in December 2019 to examine the party’s handling of allegations of anti-Muslim and other discrimination, is expected to be reported in May, a spokesperson for the inquiry confirmed.
The findings of the inquiry, led by Professor Swaran Singh, a former commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), will be made public, it is understood. The Conservative Party expects its lawyers to have an opportunity to review the report before it is released.
It is now in the drafting stage and closed for submissions, fueling the anger of former party figures who said their attempts to testify were ignored.
Baroness Warsi, the former Conservative Party co-chair who was the UK’s first female minister in the Muslim government and previously complained that anti-Muslim prejudices within the party were “widespread”, has compiled a series of cases to submit to investigation.
She gave the panel the names and contact details of several dozen people who wanted to testify about their experiences, but at least eight complainants received no contact from the investigation, it is said.
Among them is Kyle Pedley, a former vice chairman of the Stourbridge Conservative Association, who told the Telegraph the panel had not gathered any evidence from him calling it a “seemingly whitewashed and shallow investigation” .
He had hoped to provide testimony on the party’s inaction following an incident in October 2019 that left him “appalled”.
A local party officer reportedly threw a barrage of inappropriate questions to a Muslim council candidate about his religion and race. When the candidate left the room, another officer questioned whether the local party would benefit from sending an “Asian” to the council district, Mr Pedley said.
He filed a formal complaint with Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) the day after the episode, but claimed there had been no attempted follow-up. He later resigned as a council candidate and party member in protest.
After giving the details of the complaint and the alleged inaction to Baroness Warsi, he said: “She discussed my case and gave her contact details. [to the inquiry]. No one contacted me. I have not received any communication. “
Another plaintiff who wanted to testify was Ajay Jagota, a former local party leader who resigned after CCHQ failed to take action against a party adviser who allegedly made an anti-Muslim remark.
Mr Jagota stepped down as chairman of the South Shields Conservatives Association in January 2019 to protest the central party and its chairman refusing to respond to his official complaint over a four-month period. His departure prompted Downing Street to apologize to him for the party’s lack of response and to insist that the complaint was under investigation.
Expressing his disappointment with the conduct of the investigation, he said: “Based on the fact that I introduced myself and no one called me, any normal person would say they don’t trust them. . Why don’t you have it [the panel] listened to my case, especially when number 10 wrote to me to apologize for the way he was treated ?.
Mr Jagota added that the party must implement robust new processes to deal with Islamophobia and other complaints of discrimination.
The EHRC said last year that it would monitor the independent review of the party’s complaint handling processes, and has not ruled out launching its own investigation if “we are not satisfied with the progress.”
A spokesperson for the Conservative Party said: “The independent investigation will be released in due course. On such a serious matter, it is only right that a full investigation be carried out.”
The Telegraph can also reveal that, regardless of the investigation, the Conservative Party agreed to pay 35,000 court costs and appoint an independent QC to investigate allegations of Islamophobia against a former Conservative adviser.
Mohammed Arif has initiated proceedings under the Equality Act 2010, alleging discrimination and victimization against the Central Party and its local association of conservatives in Walsall in a series of incidents since 2015, is- he heard. The party finally agreed in January to an independent inquiry to examine whether he had been treated unfavorably because of his race or religion, and to pay a contribution towards his legal costs.
The party spokesman said: “We cannot comment on the ongoing legal issues.” Mr. Arif declined to comment.
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