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Boris Johnson's comments about women wearing the burka have given an impression that the Tories are "insensitive to Muslim communities", an independent review has said.

The prime minister ordered a report in 2019 into how the party handles discrimination allegations.

It found anti-Muslim views were seen at local association and individual level.

But claims of "institutional racism" were not borne out by evidence of the way complaints were handled.

However, there is "clear evidence" the Conservatives' complaints system is "in need of overhaul", Professor Swaran Singh's independent review into alleged Islamophobia and discrimination in the Conservative Party said.

The report said it "should make for uncomfortable reading for the party".


But it also said it found "no evidence the party had... systematically failed any particular community".

Responding to the report, a Conservative spokesman said: "The party is considering the recommendations set out by the report. We will respond later."

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The report was commissioned in December 2019 after accusations of Islamophobic behaviour by some Conservative party members and representatives.

The review, led by Prof Singh, was set up to examine the "nature and extent" of complaints made since 2015.

It said Lord Goldsmith's London mayoral campaign against Sadiq Khan and Boris Johnson's comments about Muslim women before he became prime minister "give an impression to some of a party and leadership insensitive to Muslim communities".

In 2018, Mr Johnson faced accusations of Islamophobia after writing in a Telegraph newspaper column that Muslim women wearing burkas "look like letter boxes".

The report also found that from 2015 to 2020 the party's central database recorded 1,418 complaints concerning 727 incidents of alleged discrimination.

Two-thirds of all incidents reported related to allegations of anti-Muslim discrimination, and three-quarters of all incidents recorded in the Conservatives' complaints database involved social media activity.

"Judging by the extent of complaints and findings of misconduct by the party itself that relate to anti-Muslim words and conduct, anti-Muslim sentiment remains a problem within the party," the report said.

"This is damaging to the party, and alienates a significant section of society," it said.

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