Boris orders civil service to probe claims ex-minister was sacked over religion

Boris orders civil service to probe claims ex-minister was sacked over religion
Boris orders civil service to probe claims ex-minister was sacked over religion
Ghani v Spencer: Tories pick sides in 'Muslimness' row 

Team Ghani

Nadhim Zahawi: 'There is no place for islamophobia or any form of racism in our Conservative party. Nusrat Ghani is a friend, a colleague & a brilliant parliamentarian. This has to be investigated properly & racism routed out.'

Sajid Javid: 'This is a very serious matter which needs a proper investigation. I would strongly support her in making a formal complaint - she must be heard.'

Caroline Nokes: 'I was very proud when Nus was the first female Muslim minister to speak at the despatch box and I thought it was evidence of how far our parliament and my party had come and to hear of the challenges that she has subsequently faced, is horrific.'

Steve Baker: 'That Nus could be treated like this is completely intolerable. I value (her) as a great colleague and I'm appalled. We must get to the bottom of it.' 

Team Spencer 

Mark Spencer: 'These accusations are completely false and I consider them to be defamatory. I have never used those words attributed to me.' 

Dominic Raab:  'If there are any claims like this they should result in a formal complaint which allows a formal investigation to take place. As the chief whip has pointed out, Nus hasn't made a formal complaint. She was asked to do so. In the absence of doing so there will be no specific investigation into this.'

Downing Street: 'After being made aware of these extremely serious claims, the Prime Minister met with Nusrat Ghani to discuss them.  He then wrote to her expressing his serious concern and inviting her to begin a formal complaint process. She did not subsequently do so.'

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Boris Johnson today ordered the Cabinet Office to investigate allegations an ex-minister was sacked over 'Muslimness'.

The PM has instructed the civil service to carry out a probe after the extraordinary claims from Tory MP Nusrat Ghani. 

The move came after Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid joined calls for a 'proper' inquiry - with others suggesting it should be fully independent. 

A No10 spokeswoman said this morning that Mr Johnson took the allegations 'very seriously'.

'The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP,' the spokeswoman said.

'At the time these allegations were first made, the Prime Minister recommended to her that she make a formal complain to CCHQ. She did not take up this offer.

'The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened.

'As he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these claims very seriously.'

A thinktank has called on the Government to bring in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to investigate the claims.

The Runnymede Trust, a race equality thinktank, says the issue is too important to be left to a civil servant-led inquiry.   

Ms Ghani alleged that chief whip Mark Spencer said her faith was partly responsible for her getting the boot in 2020.   

No10 claimed she had made the PM aware of the allegation at the time but declined an invitation to ask for a full investigation. But Ms Ghani contradicted their version of events, saying the PM refused to get involved and tried to fob her off.

Dr Halima Begum, chief executive of the Runnymede Trust, told the Guardian: 'This is an incredibly serious situation. At a bare minimum, the allegation that a minister of the crown was fired for her so-called 'Muslimness' would represent a flagrant challenge to our equalities and labour laws.

'The facts and questions about the legality of what has happened here must be urgently investigated by the very highest authority. This cannot simply be left for another civil service inquiry. If the allegations are proven to be true, Nusrat would have been subjected to grossly discriminatory behaviour.

'[Her] distress will be felt by every one of the 3 million Muslims in the country, as well as every member of our religious minority communities. All of the political parties need to do more to demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination, and to prove that religious minorities in this country are respected regardless of their faith.'

Caroline Nokes, chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, described the treatment of Ms Ghani as 'appalling'.

She also backed calls for the EHRC to launch an investigation and told the Telegraph: 'Her faith has never made me (or any other colleague) 'uncomfortable'.

'At the very least EHRC should have a look at this.'

An EHRC spokesman stated the Commission is still examining the Conservative Party's handling of the Singh inquiry into Islamophobia complaints last year and suggested a full investigation may take place.

The spokesman added: 'If we are not satisfied with progress we will review our decision [not to begin an immediate review] and do not rule out the use of our legal powers.'

Dr Halima Begum, director of the Runnymede Trust, said the incident 'must be urgently investigated by the very highest authority'. She added: 'This cannot simply be left for another civil service inquiry'

Dr Halima Begum, director of the Runnymede Trust, said the incident 'must be urgently investigated by the very highest authority'. She added: 'This cannot simply be left for another civil service inquiry'

Downing Street is fighting multiple battles - but will Boris survive? 

The Prime Minister is currently fighting wars on several fronts as he attempts to maintain his premiership. 

Though Sue Gray's inquiry into 'partygate' is believed to have dug up some extremely damning evidence, here are some of the other challenges facing Downing Street which could prove deadly to Boris' leadership.

Allegations of Islamophobia 

Nusrat Ghani, the first Muslim woman to be elected as a Tory MP in 2015, said she was told by a party whip she was being axed in Feb 2020 because her status as a Muslim woman was 'making colleagues feel uncomfortable'. 

She also claimed she was told by the whip that she had been fired for saying to Boris Johnson that they had a 'women problem', in

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