Tag Archives: disciplinary

LabourLeaks: will party leaders take disciplinary action while inquiry is ongoing?

The scope of an investigation into the leaked Labour report on a right-wing faction’s interference will not stop party members being suspended and investigated for improper behaviour, it seems.

So it is entirely possible for Keir Starmer and his team to suspend the memberships of all those who are named as responsible for misconduct in their roles as party officers, investigate what happened alongside the investigation into the report, and finally expel them if necessary.

The investigation’s full terms of reference have yet to be published but a LabourList report states that:

  • “The inquiry does not preclude disciplinary action by the party… the new leadership team was not trying to discourage such action from being taken by the party in line with normal processes, and in fact “they’re encouraged” to do so.”
  • The person who leaked the report will be protected as a whistleblower. A Momentum spokesperson said: “While the report should not have been leaked unredacted, Labour is Britain’s largest political party and the contents were clearly in the public interest. Labour’s half a million members deserved to know what was happening at the top of their party, and those involved in bringing these actions to light must not be penalised.”
  • Sources say the independent investigation will not focus on the leaking of the report in terms of identifying the leaker(s), though how and why the leak occurred will be considered.

Of course, both Starmer and deputy leader Angela Rayner have said they support introducing an independent complaints system.

For the benefit of Labour members: this means the party, as data controller, would pass your personal details to somebody completely unconnected with it, who you may not wish to have information about you, without consulting you about it and without asking your consent. This runs contrary to the Data Protection Act.

A majority vote in Conference will not be enough to give the party legal justification for such a move. It will have to gain the consent of every single party member – and if just one of you refuses to allow it, then the party will be acting illegally in doing it.

That’s the law.

This Site will continue to report on this matter as developments continue to take place.

Source: Labour’s ruling body agrees scope of investigation into leaked report – LabourList

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Labour: contrite leader candidates will look stupid after former member has his day in court

The arena: The lies Labour used to expel one member are to be exposed at Bristol Civil Justice Centre.

Labour leadership candidates were falling over themselves to apologise for failing to tackle a fabricated anti-Semitism crisis, according to BBC News.

What a shame they have not been so forthcoming in apologising to the members they have wronged.

In my own case, Labour faked evidence and then passed it to like-minded members of the press, in order to create a false impression that I was an anti-Semite. The party then used this as an excuse to expel me.

And now Labour will have to answer for those activities – in court on May 26.

The party breached its own disciplinary rules and regulations, and data protection procedures – in the process breaking the Data Protection Act – in its determination to expel a perfectly innocent member with one of the most abhorrent smears there can be.

But party leaders did not realise that they had laid themselves wide open to a legal challenge in the courts – over breach of contract.

The party is governed by its rule book and it broke those rules in its attack on me. I feel sure that other people will have been similarly wronged.

The court hearing will begin at 10am and a whole day has been allotted to it.

In the meantime, candidates like Emily Thornberry are apologising for failing to kick out members on the basis of nothing more than a flimsy claim – most probably by people who support the Conservatives.

She’ll be singing a different tune in June.

Source: Labour leadership: Candidates apologise over anti-Semitism – BBC News

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Latest ‘anti-Semitism’ attack on Labour reveals the cruel intention behind it

Injustice: How many innocent Labour Party members have suffered as a result of false accusations?

Labour has been “letting off” party members accused of anti-Semitism, according to the Board of Deputies of British Jews – but they are deliberately misinterpreting party policy.

Still, what can we expect from an unelected self-interest group?

The claim is that Labour’s own disciplinary process shows that members can avoid punishment – by apologising and agreeing to take part in education to show why their actions were wrong.

And why shouldn’t they be excused from suspension or expulsion, if they know they have done wrong, have accepted it, and are willing to learn, so they don’t do it again, even inadvertently.

The Board of Deputies, it seems, wants all offenders to be driven out of the Labour Party, no matter whether they have accepted and apologised for wrong-doing or not. That is unreasonable.

Still, what can we expect from a predominantly right-wing – Tory-dominated – group? It seems to me that this demand springs from a desire to weaken the Labour Party, rather than any wish for justice.

And in any case, there is plenty of opportunity for injustice in Labour’s system as it is.

I was accused of anti-Semitic behaviour on several occasions, based on false allegations by that fake charity, the Campaign Against Antisemitism.

One or several of its members had concocted a press release in which they mangled my words in a bid to claim hatred of Jewish people where there was none.

Accused – and summarily suspended – by Labour, I expected a proper investigation into the truth or falsehood of the allegations against me. I received none.

The party’s attitude was that the accusation against me was proof of my guilt. After I proved that my actions were not anti-Semitic by any accepted definition of the term, the party changed its tune to claim that it did not matter, because my words had caused upset, and that was enough.

(It isn’t enough. And, as the party could not produce anybody who claimed to have suffered such upset, no such person legally exists.)

I was initially offered reinstatement, if I apologised and accepted education on anti-Semitism – in line with the policy against which the Board of Deputies is now protesting.

I refused it because I had done nothing wrong and Labour’s investigation had been a farce.

But because the party’s disputes team had already made up their collective mind that I was guilty, I was subjected to another farce when my case was heard by the National Constitutional Committee.

That was the day it earned its derogatory nickname of “National Kangaroo Court”. It is clear that nobody who enters such a hearing may expect anything even approximating justice.

In fact, the entire procedure shames the Labour Party to the deepest level, and all those who defend it – from the lowest party official posting out suspension notices to the NEC, NCC and the general secretary.

All these people have been complicit in huge harm to the livelihoods and reputations of those whose names their decisions have besmirched.

In the light of these facts, Board of Deputies’ president Marie van der Zyl’s claim that “Labour’s disciplinary processes still seem to be more geared towards protecting antisemites than protecting Jews” is silly childishness.

The process is not a “‘get out of jail free’ card for racists,” as she claims. It is a mechanism to persecute the innocent.

So, by rights, I should be in favour of the now-much-touted demand that Labour turn over its disciplinary system to an independent organisation.

But here’s another stumbling-block: When Labour offered me the chance to apologise and take a course on anti-Semitism, the people running that course would have been the Jewish Labour Movement.

That would be the same Jewish Labour Movement whose members secretly recorded Jackie Walker when she attended a “safe space” meeting (meaning attendees had been promised freedom to discuss anything, without their words being used against them), and then used her words against her by passing a version of that recording on to the press.

I would describe that behaviour, at the very least, as untrustworthy. Wouldn’t you?

The Jewish Labour Movement has been highly-critical of the Labour Party in the past, as have the Board of Deputies and the Jewish Leadership Council, all of whom have endorsed the call for an independent investigation/disciplinary process.

Perhaps they intend to demand that they should carry out such a process?

Whether they do or not, they must certainly never be allowed to do so.

Source: Jewish leaders accuse Labour of ‘letting off’ antisemites | Politics | The Guardian

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Jackie Walker was right to withdraw from a prejudiced disciplinary procedure that makes a mockery of the Labour Party

Everybody who represents the Labour Party – in any role – should be ashamed of this.

Jackie Walker, the Jewish Labour activist who has been subjected to years of abuse after being accused of anti-Semitism for requesting an accurate definition of the offence, has walked out of the party’s disciplinary hearing against her, saying it was prejudiced against her from the start.

Her experiences, as recounted in this article on the Jewish Voice for Labour website, correspond very closely with my own. Her response to them leads me to regret that I did not abandon my own hearing when I realised it was a kangaroo court.

Ms Walker said the disciplinary panel refused to allow her to speak in her defence, and said she had been presented with a large amount of new evidence, only days ahead of the hearing.

This certainly rings true for me. Although I did not try to make an opening statement, as Ms Walker did, I was frustrated in my attempts to establish my innocence by constant interruptions from a panel whose chair was not interested in the evidence.

It seemed clear to me that the panel was under instructions to find against me, no matter what emerged during the hearing – and I note that Ms Walker feels the same way about her hearing.

I was not presented with new evidence days before the hearing; I was presented with it during the hearing itself, in contravention of Labour’s own rules on the presentation of evidence.

Those rules state that new evidence may only be admitted with the express consent of both sides in a dispute, and that time must be allowed for a response to be submitted before any hearing takes place.

This did not happen in Ms Walker’s case, nor did it happen in mine.

Ms Walker also fell foul of the definition of anti-Semitism adopted by Labour for its hearings, which is not the IHRA working definition that the party claims to have adopted last summer.

She wrote: “The LP now submits that the test to be applied to an allegation of antisemitism against me ‘does not require the NCC to engage in a debate as to the proper definition of anti-Semitism’ but rather whether an ‘ordinary person hearing or reading the comments might reasonably perceive them to be antisemitic’.  That is an extraordinary dilution of the adopted test of ‘hatred towards Jews’ which is a definition of antisemitism with which I wholeheartedly agree.”

In my own hearing, the accusation was that somebody (who was never identified and who therefore, legally, does not exist) felt offended or upset by words I had written on This Site.

I had constructed my defence around the IHRA working definition and was therefore wrong-footed by this sudden change of direction. I should have halted the proceedings at once but, perhaps foolishly, I wanted to try to end the matter in accordance with party procedures. What a shame the party’s own representatives had no intention of doing the same!

Ms Walker pointed out that she was given no advance notice of the names of the panellists who were to hear her case, so she had no way of checking whether they were likely to give her a fair hearing. This rings true for me, also.

If I had known the name of the chairperson of my own disciplinary panel, and had been given the opportunity to check her own behaviour in other disciplinary hearings, I would have refused to participate until a new panel was selected. There was clear evidence online, showing that she was extremely prejudiced and would not offer anything approaching justice.

I would be very interested to know the names of the panellists in Ms Walker’s case.

Ms Walker pointed to prejudicial comments made against her by Labour MPs. I have also suffered the attentions of Labour MPs who seemed to want to make a name for themselves by treating people who had merely been accused as if they were guilty.

But it did not occur to me that their comments might constitute a reason for a disciplinary panel to find against me. After all, there was already a directive from Labour’s NEC included in the charge sheet, to find against me, no matter what evidence was presented.

And I note with interest that Ms Walker said the Labour Party was guilty of data protection crimes regarding personal information about her that was held by the party. I am also pursuing the Labour Party over breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Put it all together and we see that Labour’s failure to follow its own rules, and its determination to smear party members who speak out about injustice, is not only habitual – it appears to be party policy.

It is a policy for which every single party representative should feel a deep and burning shame.

Those responsible for it should – if they had any moral backbone at all – resign from their positions and from the party at once. They won’t, I know – they will have to be identified and pursued. And that’s a difficult task when they are gleefully removing anybody who might be a threat to them!

But clear breaches of procedure have been identified here, and that should be enough to start a dialogue, at the very least.

Labour’s NEC – and NCC – has taken sides against the ‘wrong kind of Jews’

Last week I made it clear that Labour’s National Executive Committee has descended into racism in order to attack innocent party members like myself under a false pretence of anti-Semitism.

In the same accusation against me, the NEC also fell into anti-Semitism – by supporting an affiliated organisation that victimises people it considers to be the “wrong kind of Jews” (although they may not be described in that way).

By now, readers of This Site will be well aware that I attended a disciplinary hearing arranged by Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, at which a prejudiced panel arbitrarily decided that all the accusations against me were proved, despite having heard no evidence at all in support of such a claim.

One of these accusations concerns the Jewish Labour Movement and ran as follows:

On 2nd October 2016 Mr Sivier posted: ‘JLM is not a movement that represents Jews; it represents Jewish Zionists’. ‘The Jewish Labour Movement does not represent Jews who are not Zionists. It persecutes them’.

“This comment is grossly offensive to those the Party seeks to represent particularly the Jewish community. Comments like these have had and continue to have a serious impact on the Party’s position as an inclusive organisation, which stands against antisemitism.

“To state that the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate does not represent Jews denies Jews the right to self-define. This conduct is abhorrent, antisemitic and falls way below the standards expected of Party members. This is clearly prejudicial and/or grossly detrimental to the Party.”

Of course I was not suggesting that the JLM does not represent any Jews; my words make it clear that I was saying the organisation – the Labour Party’s official Jewish affiliate, according to the NEC – represents only those Jews who support the political doctrine of Zionism (and even then, only those who support the interpretation of that doctrine supported by that organisation’s leaders).

I confess I was amazed to see this put forward as a charge against me, because my reasons for saying this were supported by the Jewish Labour Movement itself.

When I was interviewed by Labour investigating officer Stewart Owadally about this and other charges in October 2017 and he challenged me on this, I asked him if he had read the article – and he said that he had not. He had not read any of my articles beyond the specific parts he had been asked to highlight and question. This explained why he had not spotted the answer to his question, directly below the words he had highlighted. I simply read it out.

My article argues: “Look at the organisation’s own website. It states:

“The Jewish Labour Movement is also affiliated to the Board of Deputies of British Jews, the Zionist Federation of the UK, and organise within the World Zionist Organisation… Our objects: To maintain and promote Labour or Socialist Zionism as the movement for self-determination of the Jewish people within the state of Israel.”

““Zionist”… “Zionist”… “Zionism”… “within the state of Israel”.

““It seems clear that “Jewish Labour Movement” is a misnomer. It should be “Zionist Labour Movement”.”

In my written defence, I went further: “What about Jews who aren’t Zionists, as the JLM defines them?

“How do you think the members of Jewdas – attacked as the “wrong kind of Jew” after Jeremy Corbyn attended an event organised by the group – would describe the JLM?

“Here’s how. Responding to attacks on Mr Corbyn for attending the event in late March, the Jewdas website – at https://www.jewdas.org/enough-is-enough/ stated: “What has happened over the last week is anything but an attempt to address antisemitism. It is the work of cynical manipulations by people whose express loyalty is to the Conservative Party and the right wing of the Labour Party. It is a malicious ploy to remove the leader of the Opposition and put a stop to the possibility of a socialist government. The Board of Deputies, the (disgraced for corruption) Jewish Leadership Council and the (unelected, undemocratic) Jewish Labour Movement are playing a dangerous game with people’s lives.”

“So these Jews consider the JLM to be unelected, undemocratic, and playing a dangerous game with people’s lives. Representative of Jews in general? No.”

I continue: “What about Jewish Voice for Labour, which admits full membership only to Labour Party members who identify as Jewish – unlike the JLM, which allows full membership to non-Jews, and also to non-members of the Labour Party? This organisation has campaigned against what it sees as false accusations of anti-Semitism against notable figures like Ken Livingstone, Jackie Walker, and Marc Wadsworth (as has This Writer), and also campaigns against the persecution of Palestinian people by the state of Israel.

“And JLM members hate it. Responding to Harrow East Labour Party’s decision to affiliate to JVL, JLM chair Ivor Caplin told the Jewish Chronicle it was a “stupid decision” to affiliate with an “obsessive group that is often far too generous to antisemites and Holocaust revisionists”. But at least members of JVL are all Jewish, which is more than can be said for the JLM.”

So how can we describe the claim that I am denying Jews the right to self-define?

Bogus. It is the JLM that denies Jews the right to self-define – by siding with those who treat other Labour-supporting Jewish organisations as the “wrong kind of Jews”.

In declaring support for the Jewish Labour Movement and its anti-Semitic* aggression against such people and organisations, the NEC is also declaring its own anti-Semitism.

*I know – it seems strange to describe an organisation claiming to represent Jews as anti-Semitic. But the JLM’s aggression towards the JVL, Jewdas and the others is entirely due to their identity as groups of Jews, so it is entirely appropriate to describe that organisation – and therefore Labour’s NEC – in that manner.

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Labour’s kangaroo court issues details of its finding against me – and they don’t even match the charge

Facepalm: Jeremy Corbyn probably thought he could trust senior members of the Labour Party to handle disciplinary procedures impartially. If so, he was mistaken. Now look at the mess they’ve caused.

What a farce!

Today I received a letter from the secretary of Labour’s National Constitutional Committee, giving its reasons for saying the charges of anti-Semitism against me were proved.

Of course, they are meaningless.

The letter states:

“Upon the balance of probabilities the charge was proved for reasons including:

  • It was not disputed that you were responsible for the posting the content that the NEC claimed breached Labour Party rules;
  • A reasonable person would find the posted content, that is the basis of the NEC’s charge, to have the propensity to cause offence, be regarded as abusive and make some feel discriminated against;
  • In posting the content you breached the Labour Party’s Antisemitism and other forms of racism code of conduct, Social Media Policy and Member’s Pledge in appendix 9 of the Rule Book.”

Unfortunately none of the above proves the particulars of the charge against me. In fact, all it proves is that whoever complained to the Labour Party about me in the first place – back in May 2017 – had said they were offended by it, that they felt it was abusive, and that they felt I had discriminated against them.

And there can be a huge difference between saying a thing and actually meaning it – especially considering the fact that the accusation was deliberately timed to interfere with my campaign for election onto Powys County Council.

Also, I wonder what the many tens of thousands of reasonable Vox Political readers – who have read the material in question and don’t consider it to be offensive, abusive or discriminatory – think of what the NCC panel has implied about them. Are you one such reader? How do you feel about the NCC claiming you’re not reasonable?

Let us remind ourselves of the particulars of the charge against me:

“Mr Sivier has repeatedly posted content propogating the conspiracy that secretive networks of Jews control and have undue influence over government and other societal institutions. He uses language that is dismissive of antisemitism and that denies Jews the right to self-identify as they wish. This falls fairly and squarely within the IHRA definition of antisemitism, which the Labour Party has adopted.”

During the hearing, I proved conclusively that I had not supported any nonsense about a “global Jewish conspiracy”, nor had I used language that is dismissive of anti-Semitism or that denied Jews the right to self-identify. And none of the words forming the basis of the NEC’s complaint fitted even tangentially within the IHRA definition of anti-Semitism.

The NCC couldn’t suggest otherwise, so instead it seems the panel came up with the tripe in the letter.

The difference between what’s said in the letter and in the charge is the same as the difference between claiming something and proving it.

I should be grateful. The letter proves two things:

I am not an anti-Semite (the letter makes no suggestion of any hatred towards Jews, simply because they are Jewish) – and Labour’s National Constitutional Committee is a laughing-stock.

Still, there is a serious side to this.

We are currently in the middle of a crisis, engineered by the Conservative government, around Brexit – and Labour is hoping to recruit more members into the Party, possibly to help fight a snap general election.

Here’s an advert from Twitter:

But why would anybody want to join an organisation whose internal procedures are prejudiced against rank-and-file members such as myself?

And why would they want to support a party into government that cannot even root out corruption in its own internal procedures?

It seems clear that Labour has a serious credibility problem, as long as it allows its disciplinary procedures to be run in the corrupt and prejudicial manner demonstrated by my own case.

Worse still, as there is no right of appeal, it seems there is no way the party can cancel its false finding against me.

Still, the difference between the charge and the rationale for the verdict puts Labour in a highly actionable position, so perhaps we will be able to sort out this mess in court.

The timing is unfortunate, as the party undoubtedly wants to gain ground with the electorate at a time of chaos within the ranks of the Conservatives, but I can’t help that.

Remember Blackstone’s ratio? “The law holds that it is better that 10 guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer”? I am innocent of the charges against me, but allow me to assure you that although I may present a composed exterior, it is extremely distressing to face accusations of anti-Semitism – especially for the more-than-18-months this has been going on.

If Labour really wanted to gain credibility now, the party’s leaders should have thought very carefully before inflicting this particular injustice on this particular man.

They’d better do something about it quickly – don’t you agree?

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Johnson left in the shade as satirist finally delivers a funny joke about burqas

Alternative burqa: This is almost certainly The Stig, although you can’t be too sure.

Boris Johnson take note: This is how you satirise attitudes to burqas:

(From the Rochdale Herald)

A new experimental initiative has seen numerous British Muslim women swap their traditional full face veils for an outfit made popular by Top Gear’s “The Stig.”

The aim of the trial is to make both Muslim women and xenophobic man-babies feel more safe and comfortable going about their lives in public.

So far the results have been positive. An anonymous test group of women in dangerous no-go-zone Luton reported dramatic changes to the way they were approached in the street.

“The same men who used to spit at me now ask me to sign their neck so they can get it tattooed. It feels like a minor change but the reaction couldn’t be more different. One man offered to by me a pint of lager and when I didn’t respond he just said ‘classic’ and left.”

Other suggested future experiments include dressing Jeremy Corbyn in a Gareth Southgate waistcoat and putting Tommy Robinson’s face on Halal goods.

For Mr Johnson, whose claim that Muslim women in burqas look like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”, the future is looking a lot less cheery – and that goes for the Conservative Party, too.

The Tories appear to be imploding over the issue – which highlights genuine prejudice against a religious group, rather than the assumed prejudice in allegations of anti-Semitism against the Labour Party.

A former aide of David Cameron, Lord Cooper, and Muslim leaders have joined the chorus of condemnation against the comments, made in a Telegraph article last week. Here’s the Observer‘s piece:

A Tory peer and former aide to David Cameron [Lord Cooper] accused Boris Johnson of “moral emptiness”, casual racism and “courting fascism” as division over the former foreign secretary’s comments about Muslim women threatened to develop into a full-blown crisis for Theresa May and her party.

After Johnson, who returned from holiday abroad on Saturday, refused to apologise, Cooper said: “The rottenness of Boris Johnson goes deeper even than his casual racism and his equally casual courting of fascism. He will advocate literally anything to play to the crowd of the moment. His career is a saga of moral emptiness and lies; pathetic, weak and needy; the opposite of strong.”

An abnormal spike in anti-Muslim abuse aimed at women wearing the hijab and niqab has been recorded by the government-backed hate crime monitoring group Tell Mama.

The majority of niqab-wearing victims who have called Tell Mama’s helpline since the article appeared said the perpetrator either used phrases such as “letterbox” or referred to Johnson.

The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), has weighed in to say support for Mr Johnson from Tory MPs and others “shone a light on the underbelly of Islamophobia” in the party.

There seems to be evidence supporting this. Mr Johnson is, it seems, unlikely to lose the whip or face official censure as a result of the internal investigation – though he may be asked to take diversity training – an offer he seems certain to resist.

Party leader Theresa May is facing the possibility that the row will do lasting damage to Conservative-Muslim relations – but this is unlikely to bother her too much because she is herself, as we all know, deeply racist.

More concerning for Gollum is the possibility that the row will enthuse Mr Johnson’s support base for a potential leadership contest.

That would really boost the Tories, wouldn’t it? Swapping one racist for another!

And it’s easy to see where Mr Johnson gets his views:

A close friend of Johnson told the Observer that he was “as likely to ride naked down Blackfriars cycle lane waving an EU flag” as he was to apologise. His father, Stanley, writing in the Sunday Telegraph… said that his son was “spot on” in his comments on the burqa, but should have gone further and called for a ban in certain circumstances.

One wonders what this gentleman would have said while he was appearing in I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, if he had ever been confronted by an aborigine.

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Tory Muslim peer receives ‘vile Islamophobic emails’ after calling for Boris Johnson to be kicked out – proving racism in the party?

Boris Johnson: All he wanted was publicity – and like gullible idiotrs, we gave it to him.

This Writer suggested – only two days ago – that Boris Johnson’s “joke” about burqa-wearing Muslim women was garnering support for him among racists.

It seems I was correct.

Of course we should not take anything a politician says at face value – Ruth Smeeth claimed to have received 25,000 anti-Semitic messages via social media, 20,000 of them in 12 hours. But research by Jewish organisation the Community Security Trust showed a peak of only 200 such messages, nationally, per day at the time of the alleged abuse, suggesting that she was… exaggerating.

And Mr Johnson?

He won’t care what Lord Sheikh says. Nor will he care about any disciplinary action by the Conservative Party.

He probably thinks, as other commentators do, that Theresa May will not want to upset supporters of Mr Johnson before crucial Brexit votes in the autumn.

So what has he achieved with his “joke”?

Publicity – for himself. And that is all he wanted.

Conservative Muslim forum founder, Lord Sheikh, has said he has received dozens of “vile” Islamophobic emails after calling for Boris Johnson to be removed from the Conservative Party after his remarks about niqabs.

The Tory peer said the ex-foreign secretary had also “let the genie out of the bottle” after he suggested veiled Muslim women resembled “letter boxes” and “bank robbers”.

He told BBC Newsnight he had received the “vile“ emails, with “obscene language” since calling for the Conservatives to withdraw the whip from Mr Johnson.

His remarks came after the Conservative Party’s decision to consider disciplinary proceedings against Mr Johnson – a move that has led to criticism of Theresa May from Brexiteer MPs who claim the complaints are politically driven.

Source: Tory Muslim peer who called for Boris Johnson to be kicked out of party receives barrage of ‘vile Islamophobic emails’ | The Independent

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Rowan Atkinson defends Boris Johnson’s burqa ‘joke’ – but did he consider the intent behind it?

Rowan Atkinson: He’s entitled to his opinion.

The last time I can recall Rowan Atkinson raising his head above the parapet to give an opinion on political matters, I thought he was right.

Not so sure about this one, though.

Mr Atkinson has defended remarks made by Boris Johnson in a Torygraph article, in which he suggested that women wearing burqas look like “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

Mr Atkinson reckons it was a good joke.

I can only say, paraphrasing one of his own sketches: “Good? No. Joke? … No.”

Boris Johnson is a man with a history of racist behaviour that has been well-quoted here and in the mainstream media. He has ‘form’ when it comes to offending people of other cultures.

Therefore we may assume there was a malicious intent behind his words.

If they had appeared in a comedy sketch on TV, spoken by a character we were supposed to find amusing for his views, then it would be a different matter.

That said, Mr Johnson has shone the spotlight on a difficult issue.

Some people do find the burqa a questionable item of clothing.

Some are intimidated by it, and by those who wear it.

Many have pointed out that there is no way of verifying the identity of the person wearing it. Mrs Mike has even suggested it would be hard to be sure, even, of their gender.

She referred to the question of how their identity is checked at airports, saying that women wearing face-coverings are routinely excused from the kind of checks that other people have to undergo. I can confirm that this is not true.

UK Border Agency guidance makes it clear that: “It is a requirement that Border Force Officers always establish the nationality and identity of all passengers.  Officers are requested that passengers wearing veils or other face coverings ask to remove the covering in order that they may be identified as the rightful holder of their passport or travel document.”

(This sentence seems garbled. I think they mean officers are encouraged to ask passengers wearing veils or other face-coverings to remove them for the purposes of identification.)

“The UK Border Agency recognises that individual sensitivities must be taken into consideration, therefore if a passenger is uncomfortable removing their face covering in public they are escorted to a private room away from the border checkpoint and asked to uncover their face there.

“Female passengers, who are uncomfortable removing a face covering in public and/or in the presence of males, are checked in private by a female officer.”

The other issues are less easy to answer. It occurs to me that, as there is a perceived problem, perhaps Muslim women would be best-placed to tackle it, with an effort to allay the fears of those who question the use of this particular item of apparel, and the need for it.

This is an instance of culture shock – two cultures have collided and are finding it hard to reconcile themselves on certain levels.

The only meaningful way to do that is communication. If Boris Johnson’s remarks trigger an increase in fruitful discourse, then something good will have come from them.

But I don’t think for one moment that this is what that man intended and I look forward to the Conservative Party’s disciplinary proceedings against him.

Rowan Atkinson has defended Boris Johnson after his controversial comments about women wearing burkas.

The actor, known for his comedy performances in Mr Bean and Blackadder, said the remarks were funny.

Atkinson wrote in a letter to The Times: ‘As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson’s joke about wearers of the burka resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one.’

He added: ‘All jokes about religion cause offence, so it’s pointless apologising for them.

‘You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required.’

Source: Rowan Atkinson backs Boris Johnson because ‘you should only ever apologise for a bad joke’ | Metro News

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Will Johnson be disciplined over burqa remarks – or is he building support among racists?

The Conservative Party is covering itself in shame over this matter – and, it seems, so is the British public.

Not only are the Tories showing that their own code of conduct isn’t worth the time it took to write it, as it clearly shows that Boris Johnson’s burqa comments warrant disciplinary action but none is being taken…

But This Writer understands his unwise words have triggered a show of support among a certain section of the British public – presumably those responsible for the increase in Islamophobic attacks recorded in the last year.

Still, what can you expect from Tories – a small-minded, racist gang, supported by small-minded racists?

The Conservative party is coming under intense pressure to decide whether to take disciplinary action against Boris Johnson following his continued refusal to apologise for his controversial descriptions of fully veiled Muslim women.

A complaint about Johnson has been lodged with Tory party chairman Brandon Lewis, who is responsible for the party’s code of conduct which says that Tory MPs and other holders of public office should “foster respect and tolerance” in their work.

Lewis has to decide whether to launch disciplinary proceedings following a day of intense criticism of Johnson, largely from the liberal wing of the party, after he used a column in the Telegraph to compare fully veiled women to “letterboxes” and “bank robbers”.

Monitoring group Tell Mama said last month that a record number of anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse were reported last year, with women disproportionately targeted.

Source: Tories under pressure over disciplinary action against Boris Johnson | Politics | The Guardian

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