Tory chairman apologises for Islamophobia within party

Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly has apologised for Islamophobia in his party.

Mr Cleverly said he is "sorry" for the cases involving both Tory members and candidates, but that he is "confident" there is now "a robust mechanism" in place to deal with the issue.

He also confirmed that an inquiry into Islamophobia will be initiated this calendar year and take place next year, with preparatory work already under way.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live's Pieenar's Politics, Mr Cleverly said: "We said it will be initiated this calendar year.

"We have been doing, in parallel to the General Election campaign, a preparatory work ahead of that and we'll be making a more formal announcement as soon as the election is done.

"It will specifically look into Islamophobia in my party. It will, by definition, also have to look at other stuff as well, because you can't always unpick this.

"But we are and absolutely have always been clear on this. We recognise that in mass membership organisations that there will always be people that say and do things which are completely inappropriate."

Mr Cleverly added that there is a "massive gulf" between the scale of Labour's problems with anti-Semitism and the issue of Islamophobia in the Conservative Party.

"The scale of the problem in the Labour Party is an order of magnitude plus different, plus what we're seeing today is their absolute refusal to deal with it is a massive part of the problem.

"There is a massive gulf between the two."

The Conservative chairman apologised for cases of Islamophobia in his party.

He added: "Well, of course, I'm sorry. And I'm sorry when, you know, people do or say things that are wrong.

"I am confident that my party has a robust mechanism for dealing with it.

"We investigate this. It's done independently. We have independent people looking at this and they come to adjudications and where people have had to be either sanctioned or expelled from the party. That has happened."

Later questioned on whether Mr Johnson was right to write a piece describing Muslim women wearing burkas as letterboxes and bank robbers, Mr Cleverly said the Prime Minister had already apologised.

Pushed again after being informed that Mr Johnson only apologised for any offence caused by the comments, not the comments themselves, he added: "If you read the piece, the points that he was making in that piece was that unlike other European countries who have put a blanket ban on the wearing of the burqa or hijab or, it's the UK does not do that.

"The point he was making was that actually in a healthy liberal democracy like we have here in the UK, just because someone has, you know, a personal discomfort with that does not mean that it should be banned. That is a defence of our liberal democracy."

Earlier in the election campaign, Mr Johnson himself apologised for the "hurt and offence" caused by Islamophobia within the Conservative Party ranks.