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TUBE workers have faced a wave of racist abuse and threats after a Tory minister suggested the workforce has been infiltrated by terrorists, campaigners warned today.
Comments by Security Minister Ben Wallace were turned into alarmist headlines by London’s Evening Standard, edited by Tory former chancellor George Osborne.
Mr Wallace told the paper that the government has purged potential terrorists working on the Tube, claiming that London Underground staff who have autism were being “groomed” by extremists.
The Stand Up to Racism campaign group accused the Tories of trying to set Londoners against each other in the run-up to local elections next month.
The Rail, Maritime and Transport union (RMT) said racist abuse and threats against ethnic-minority staff soared following the comments and the Standard’s stoking of them.
RMT general secretary Mick Cash has written to Mr Wallace calling on him to support Underground staff who, he said, “are right in the front line every day, ensuring that passengers are safe and secure.”
He told Mr Wallace that the union has received calls from Underground workers “who have been racially abused and threatened by passengers.”
Mr Cash wrote: “The inference from the passengers involved being that the staff are all part of a terrorist cell operating in London Transport.”
He told the Morning Star: “Today we have written to the minister asking for him to support the union call for responsible reporting of these matters in light of the spike of racist abuse and threats that were targeted at front-line Tube staff over the weekend off the back of lurid front-page headlines.”
Mr Cash added that the singling out of people with autism was “appalling scapegoating” of vulnerable people.
London Underground managing director Mark Ward defended staff, saying: “I appreciate everyone’s commitment and hard work and genuinely believe that our diversity makes us a stronger and more effective organisation.”
Stand Up to Racism campaign group convener Weyman Bennett said: “London is a multicultural city and always will be.
“This alarmist story is aimed at dividing people, turning Londoners against each other. In the run-up to local elections the sole aim is to divide people.”
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