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Johnson faces mounting pressures to investigate Islamophobia claims

BORIS JOHNSON is facing mounting pressure from both his own ministers and Labour to hold an inquiry into claims that a junior minister was sacked because of her “Muslimness.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid followed Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi in insisting that the allegations by Nusrat Ghani were properly investigated.

The Kashmir-born MP said that following her dismissal as a transport minister in February 2020 she was told by a government whip that her faith made colleagues “uncomfortable” and that her career would be “destroyed” if she tried to complain.

In a fresh statement yesterday, Ms Ghani said that after she spoke to the Prime Minister about what had happened, he wrote to her to say he “could not get involved” and suggested she should use the internal Conservative Party complaints process.

“This, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on government business,” she said.

“Now is not the time I would have chosen for this to come out and I have pursued every avenue and process I thought available to me, but many people have known what happened.

“All I have ever wanted was for his government to take this seriously, investigate properly and ensure no other colleague has to endure this.”

Earlier, Deputy PM Dominic Raab said that there could be no inquiry unless Ms Ghani submitted a formal complaint which she declined to do at the time.

The row comes ahead of the publication of the Sue Gray report into allegations of Downing Street parties in breach of lockdown rules and fears in No 10 it could trigger a new wave of demands for the PM to go.

The inquiry has also brought the conduct of the whips’ office under scrutiny amid claims it has sought to intimidate and blackmail Tory MPs trying to oust the PM over his conduct.

Shadow women and equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds said it was “shameful” that instead of treating allegations of Islamophobia “with the seriousness they deserve,” the Conservatives have spent the day doubling down and refusing to take action.

The Labour MP said: “No-one should question Nusrat Ghani’s right to be heard as a Muslim woman and no-one should ever face discrimination at work for their religion.

“Boris Johnson and the Conservatives’ response has been plain offensive. There needs to be an immediate, independent investigation into these serious allegations.”

Muslim Council of Britain Scottish secretary-general Zara Mohammed said: “Institutional Islamophobia in the Conservative Party has gone on with impunity for far too long.”

She added that what Ms Ghani was experiencing as a Muslim woman at the top of the party “only reinforces the deep-rooted nature of the problem.”

A No 10 spokesman said in a statement that the PM invited Ms Ghani to make a formal complaint, but she did not do so.

Chief whip Mark Spencer confirmed he had spoken to her but strongly denied making the alleged comments, saying the claims were “completely false” and “defamatory.”

Ms Gray has widened her inquiry to include allegations that parties were held in Mr Johnson’s Downing Street flat.

Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee chairman William Wragg will meet police this week to discuss the allegations of threats by government whips.

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