COMPLAINTS over Boris Johnson’s insult to women who wear the burka have automatically triggered an investigation by an “independent panel,” the Conservative Party said today.
A number of complainants said that by using his Daily Telegraph column to liken women wearing the face-covering veil to bank robbers and letter boxes, Mr Johnson had breached the party’s code of conduct.
A party spokesman declined to comment on the disciplinary procedure, saying the process is “strictly confidential.”
The panel will include one independent member, one appointed by party chairman Brandon Lewis and one picked by the chair of the back-bench 1922 Committee.
Its findings will be reported to Mr Lewis, but the final decision on an appropriate sanction could be left to Prime Minister Theresa May or the party’s board.
Disciplinary action could lead to Mr Johnson – seen as a potential leader by many Tory members – being suspended or even expelled from the party.
Yesterday evening, a protest organised by Stand Up to Racism was expected to take place outside his Uxbridge and South Ruislip constituency office.
Mr Johnson has also faced demands to apologise from senior Tories, including Ms May, Mr Lewis, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson and Muslim peer Sayeeda Warsi.
Conservative Muslim Forum founder Lord Sheikh had written to Mr Lewis to demand “serious action” against the former foreign secretary.
Mr Johnson, who is on holiday abroad, has given no response to the demands for an apology or the announcement of an investigation.
He also broke ministerial rules when he took on his Daily Telegraph column after quitting the Cabinet, the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments (Acoba) revealed yesterday.
Mr Johnson did not observe the required minimum three-month waiting period before a new job is taken up, it said.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Trickett MP said that Mr Johnson’s breach of the rules showed his “utter contempt for democracy and ridding politics of vested interests.”
Branding Acoba “toothless,” Mr Trickett argued that a “drastic overhaul” of the body was needed to “put an end to politicians and the Establishment working only for the interests of themselves.”
Lamiat Sabin is the Morning Star’s Parliamentary Reporter.
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