Boris Johnson to face Tory code of conduct probe in burka storm9th August 2018
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Boris Johnson will be probed for a possible breach of the Conservatives’ code of conduct with his burka “letterbox” comments, party sources revealed today.
A formal decision to refer the former foreign secretary to an investigatory panel headed by a lawyer is expected this afternoon.
Sources said they were sifting through a “considerable volume” of complaints from the public about the language used by Mr Johnson.
But party leaders also hope referring the issue to the independent panel will cool the outbreak of Tory infighting that has given Jeremy Corbyn a breather from Labour’s anti-Semitism row.
The round of Tory infighting has given Jeremy Corbyn a breather from the anti-Semitism storm engulfing Labour (Photo by Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty Images) (Getty Images)
“It is not personal and it has nothing to do with Brexit, it is simply the same rules that apply to everyone in the party,” said a well-placed source.
Prime Minister piles on pressure for Boris Johnson to apologise for burka comments
The party code sets out “minimum standards of behaviour”. It says elected Tories must “lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance” and act “in a manner which upholds the reputation and values” of the party.
In a Daily Telegraph column on Monday, Mr Johnson mocked the appearance of women who choose to wear the burka and niqab , saying they resembled letterboxes and “bank robbers”.
Leading imam claims Boris Johnson was right about the burka
Met Commissioner Cressida Dick today ruled out a criminal investigation, telling the BBC Asian Network: “I spoke last night to my very experienced officers who deal with hate crime … my preliminary view is that what Mr Johnson said would not reach the bar for a criminal offence.”
But he could face a Whitehall probe into claims he broke the ministerial code by announcing he was taking up the highly-paid Telegraph column before getting consent. A formal complaint to Theresa May was made this morning by ex-Labour minister John Spellar after former attorney general Dominic Grieve said he believed the rules had been broken.
MP Anna Soubry said: “I hope this will be investigated quickly. Boris Johnson needs to show more respect” (PA Wire/PA Images)
Conservative MP Anna Soubry said: “I hope this will be investigated quickly. Boris Johnson needs to show more respect — whether it’s to important rules governing the conduct of former ministers or the choices women make on what to wear.”
Mr Spellar said it appeared to be a “clear breach” of ministerial code which states ministers leaving Cabinet “must” seek advice from the independent Advisory Committee on Business Appointments before taking up a job.
A source close to Mr Johnson conceded he had written to Acoba only after an announcement that he had taken up the column.
Two days after Tory chairman Brandon Lewis ordered the former minister to apologise for the burka remarks, Mr Johnson was maintaining his silence. A Sky News poll found 45 per cent of voters thought he should say sorry, while 48 per cent thought he should not.
Rupa Huq MP imitates Boris Johnson on Channel 4 News
It came as London Labour MP Rupa Huq delivered an impression of him on Channel 4 News, saying: “Sorry, I just shagged your wife, I didn’t realise, sorry.”