Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson defends Johnson in burqa row

Actor and comedian Rowan Atkinson defends Johnson in burqa row

Former British foreign secretary Boris Johnson faces an investigation by an independent panel over complaints that he violated the ruling Conservative Party's code of conduct when he wrote in a newspaper column last week that women in burkas resemble "bank robbers" and "letter boxes".

The Conservative headquarters have launched an inquiry into whether his comments breached their code of conduct.

The Daily Mail said it received one of its largest postbags ever from hundreds of readers, with 19 backing Mr Johnson to every one who was critical. He is instead more likely to be told.

The row over his comments has split the Conservatives, with the prime minister and others calling on the ex-foreign secretary to apologise and others demanding he should lose the whip.

The internal Tory process looking at Mr Johnson's comparison of Muslim women in face coverings with "bank robbers" or "letter boxes" was automatically triggered on Thursday after party headquarters received several complaints.

The remarks faced harsh criticism, and he was asked by Conservative party chairman, Brandon Lewis, to apologise.

In a letter to The Times, he wrote: "You should really only apologise for a bad joke. On that basis, no apology is required".

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"The investigation should be thorough, impartial and objective, and carried out with sensitivity and due respect for the rights of all parties concerned", says the code of conduct.

Johnson was called upon to apologize but declined, according to his employers.

"The burka and niqab are ugly tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim". A leading imam from at the Oxford Islamic Congregation, Dr Taj Hargey, said the MP and former Mayor of London should "not apologise for telling the truth".

Joining Julia Hartley-Brewer on talkRADIO, he said: "I think a lot of your listeners will be deeply anxious about the state of our democracy and free speech".

"I think a lot of your listeners will be deeply anxious about the state of our democracy and free speech", he told talkRadio.

But with anger from the Brexit wing of the party over even starting the process, party headquarters confirmed that Mr Lewis - who has already criticised Mr Johnson's comments - would not pick the panel.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, he added: "Just because we find something distasteful doesn't mean it's either illegal or it shouldn't happen".

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