Treasury minister dramatically QUITS over Covid anti-fraud measures

‘Thank you and good night’: New blow for Boris as Lords Treasury minister dramatically QUITS at the despatch box in protest at ‘indolence, arrogance and ignorancethat has allowed Covid fraud to cost us the equivalent of 1p on income tax

  • Lord Agnew dramatically quit in House of Lords over ‘inadequatecounter-fraud measures on Covid support
  • Treasury minister said ‘schoolboy errorswere costing the country the equivalent of a penny on income tax
  • Another blow to Boris Johnson amid Partygate scandal and allegations minister was sacked for ‘Muslimness
  • Boris Johnson suffered another body blow today as a Treasury minister dramatically quit, branding the government’s Covid anti-fraud measures ‘indolent, arrogant and ignorant’.

    Lord Agnew announced he was resigning at the despatch box in the Upper Housedrawing gasps from peers as he took aim at ‘schoolboy errorsin tackling abuse of support schemes.

    The bombshell came as he was updating peers about the £4.3billion of Covid loans written off by the Treasury – which Labour said has gone to ‘fraudsters’.

    Lord Agnew said he had been ‘arguingwith Treasury and BEIS officials for nearly two years to ‘get them to lift their gameover issues such as duplicate loans and monitoring the performance of lenders, aggiungendo: ‘I have been mostly unsuccessful.

    ‘Given that I am the minister for counter fraud, it would be somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I am incapable of doing it properly,’ Egli ha detto.

    ‘It is for this reason that I have sadly decided to tender my resignation as a minister across the Treasury and Cabinet Office with immediate affect.

    After finishing his speech raging at a ‘combination of arrogance, indolence, and ignorancethat is costing the equivalent of a penny on income tax, the Treasury minister said ‘thank you and goodbyeand strode out of the Lords chamber to applause from his fellow peers.

    Although Lord Agnew insisted there was no connection to Mr Johnson’s other woes, the move will intensify pressure on the already-embattled premier.

    Mr Johnson is facing another week from hell as the top civil servant finalises her inquiry into alleged confinamento breaches in Whitehall, while furious Tories prepare for another coup bid.

    Dominic Cummings today revealed he is only giving written evidence to the Partygate inquiry to avoid Mr Johnson ‘inventing nonsenseabout what he said.

    Lord Agnew announced he was resigning at the despatch box in the Upper House - drawing gasps from peers

    Lord Agnew announced he was resigning at the despatch box in the Upper Housedrawing gasps from peers

    Boris Johnson visited Milton Keynes Hospital today as he awaits the results of the Sue Gray inquiry into Partygate

    Boris Johnson visited Milton Keynes Hospital today as he awaits the results of the Sue Gray inquiry into Partygate

    Downing Street is fighting multiple battlesbut will Boris survive?

    The Prime Minister is currently fighting wars on several fronts as he attempts to maintain his premiership.

    Though Sue Gray’s inquiry into ‘partygateis believed to have dug up some extremely damning evidence, here are some of the other challenges facing Downing Street which could prove deadly to Boris’ comando.

    Allegations of Islamophobia

    Nusrat Ghani, the first Muslim woman to be elected as a Tory MP in 2015, said she was told by a party whip she was being axed in Feb 2020 because her status as a Muslim woman was ‘making colleagues feel uncomfortable’.

    She also claimed she was told by the whip that she had been fired for saying to Boris Johnson that they had a ‘women problem’, in attracting female voters.

    Ms Ghani claimed she raised the issue through official party channels but said she was warned that if she continued to do so, she would be ‘ostracisedby her colleagues and her ‘career and reputation would be destroyed’.

    William Wragg’s allegations of MP blackmail

    William Wragg, a backbencher who accused Downing Street of trying to blackmail rebel MPs, said yesterday he would meet police to discuss his allegations.

    Downing Street said it had not seen any proof of the behaviour he alleges, but Chris Bryant, chairman of the Commons Committee on Standards, said about a dozen Tory MPs alleged whips threatened to withdraw funding for their constituencies should they not show support for Johnson.

    Whips have also been accused of heavy-handed attempts to intimidate the rebels with the threat of revealing allegations about their sex lives.

    1922 Comitato

    William Wragg and Nusrat Ghani are joint vice-chairmen of the 1922 Committee of Conservative backbenchers.

    The committee’s executive secretary Gary Sambrook has also expressed his desire for a new Tory leader, while treasurer Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown voiced frustration with the PM last year.

    If Johnson were to win a party confidence vote, he would be immune to another leadership challenge for a yearbut the committee is considering cutting this immunity period to six months.

    Defectors

    Former Tory MP Christian Wakeford crossed the floor and joined the Labour party last week.

    Though defections are rare in Parliament, there are rumours that more Tory MPs may soon follow suit.

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    Lord Agnew told the House: ‘The oversight by both BEIS and the British Business Bank of the panel lenders of BBLs has been nothing less than woeful.

    ‘They have been assisted by the Treasury, who appear to have no knowledge or little interest in the consequences of fraud to our economy or our society.

    He told the Lords that BEIS had ‘two counter-fraud staffat the start of the pandemic who would not ‘engage constructivelywith his counter-fraud team in the Cabinet Office.

    Ha aggiunto: ‘Schoolboy errors were made, for example allowing over a thousand companies to receive bounceback loans that were not even trading when Covid struck.

    Lord Agnew tried to distance himself from the growing calls to oust the PM.

    ‘It is worth saying that none of this related to far more dramatic political events being played out across Westminster. This is not an attack on the Prime Minister and I am sorry for the inconvenience it will cause,’ Egli ha detto.

    ‘I hope that as a virtually unknown minister beyond this place, it might prompt others more important beyond me to get behind this and sort it out.

    ‘It matters for all the obvious reasons but there is a penny of income tax waiting to be claimed here if we just woke up.

    ‘Total fraud loss across Government is estimated at £29billion a year, of course not all can be stopped but a combination of arrogance indolence and ignorance freezes the Government machine.

    Lord Agnew told peers that early estimates of fraudulent Covid loan claims was likely to be 26 per cent of the total paid out so far.

    Egli ha detto: ‘We have already paid out nearly £1 billion to banks claiming the state guarantee. The percentage of these losses estimated to be from fraud rather than credit failures is 26%. I accept this is only an early approximate but a very worrying one.

    As he resigned, Lord Agnew said he had ‘four differences of opinion with Treasury officialsand proceeded to read out what he would do differently.

    These were: '1. An urgent improvement in lender performance data, including a common definition of fraud.

    Le sue condizioni sono successivamente peggiorate e gli sforzi per rianimarlo da parte di un medico privato e dei soccorritori cittadini sono falliti. Far greater challenge of lender banks when we uncover inconsistency.

    Le sue condizioni sono successivamente peggiorate e gli sforzi per rianimarlo da parte di un medico privato e dei soccorritori cittadini sono falliti. Educating Treasury officials on why reliance on audit is far too reactive.

    ‘4. A failure by Treasury or BEIS to understand the disjunction between the level of criminality – probably hundreds of thousands – and enforcement capability.

    Lord Agnew’s resignation as a Treasury minister came after a question from his Labour shadow, Lord Tunnicliffe.

    Lord Tunnicliffe asked: ‘Last week the Government objected to the £4.3billion figure quoted in various news reports.

    ‘In many senses we would be delighted if the extent of fraud arising from the Government’s coronavirus support scheme was smaller than first thought. Is the noble lord the minister able to provide a more accurate figure today?’

    He also asked ‘why the Government expects working people to cancel out these losses’, aggiungendo: ‘That would be bad enough in normal times but is surely worse when families face an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis.

    Former cowboy and brothel cleaner who became successful businessman despite failing 11-plus

    Lord Theodore Agnew became a millionaire businessman despite failing his 11-plus and and enduring a stint as a brothel cleaner.

    Born and raised in Norfolk of farming stock the now 61 year old attended the prestigious Rugby School but by his own admission he was not particularly academic.

    But his exam experience led him to be a staunch opponent of the grammar school system he says fails students who learn at different speeds.

    After school he left dour 1970s Britain for Australia, via Canada. Down Under he worked as a jackaroothe Aussie equivalent of a cowboybefore buying a cleaning company in Sydney.

    Nel 2013 he told the Eastern Daily Press: ‘Most of the time it was cleaning flats in King’s Cross that had been used as brothels. The squalor and filth was indescribable.

    After a decade in Australia he returned to Britain and founded the insurance claims firm Town & Country Assistance. He sold the business on in 2002 after building it to a company employing 150 persone.

    His experience as a pioneer of outsourcingto cheaper and more numerate staff in India sparked an interest in raising UK education standards.

    He was made a Tory peer in 2017 as Baron Agnew of Oulton and became a schools minister under Theresa May. Nel 2020 he was moved by Boris Johnson to become minister for efficiency and transformation.

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    After the resignation Labour leader in the Lords Baroness Smith of Basildon said: ‘I think we have just witnessed one of the most dramatic moments we have ever seen in the House from a minister who felt his integrity could no longer ensure he remained a member of the Government.

    No10 insisted the Government had been clear fraud was ‘unacceptable’.

    The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: ‘We are grateful to Lord Agnew for the significant contribution he has made to Government.

    ‘On the wider issues that he’s raised, we introduced our unprecedented Covid support schemes at speed to protect jobs and livelihoods, helping millions of people across the UK, including nearly 12million on the furlough scheme alone.

    ‘We’ve always been clear fraud is unacceptable and are taking action against those abusing the system, con 150,000 ineligible claims blocked, £500 million recovered last year and the HMRC tax protection taskforce is expected to recover an additional £1 billion of taxpayersmoney.

    It is not the first time a minister has resigned at the despatch box in the House of Lords.

    Di nuovo dentro 2018, Lord Bates stunned peers when he announced he would quit as he was ‘ashamedfor failing to turn up on time in the upper chamber.

    però, the international development minister’s offer of resignation was rejected by the then prime minister Theresa May.

    He subsequently left the Government the following year to walk from Belfast to Brussels in search of ‘common ground’, amid the fractious Brexit debate.

    Nel frattempo, former No10 chief Mr Cummings said he is not speaking to Sue Gray directly as he claimed staff are not handing crucial material to the top civil servant due to fears Boris Johnson will see it.

    Another minister quit at the despatch box in 2018but was talked around by Theresa May

    It is not the first time a minister has resigned at the despatch box in the House of Lords.

    Di nuovo dentro 2018, Lord Bates stunned peers when he announced he would quit as he was ‘ashamedfor failing to turn up on time in the upper chamber.

    però, the international development minister’s offer of resignation was rejected by the then prime minister Theresa May.

    He subsequently left the Government the following year to walk from Belfast to Brussels in search of ‘common ground’, amid the fractious Brexit debate.

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    The comments came amid rumours Downing Street police have supplied ‘extremely damningtestimony to Ms Gray, with storm clouds seemingly gathering around Mr Johnson.

    But the PM’s spokesman pointedly refused to say that Ms Gray’s whole report will be publishedsaying it will be down to the premier how much is released.

    Mr Cummings has already revealed he is ready to swear on oath that Mr Johnson was warned that a ‘BYOBbash in May 2020 would break the rules.

    In a blog post this afternoon, the ex-aide wrote: ‘When SG asked to speak to me I emailed to the effect: if we speak the PM will invent nonsense and spin it to the media and you and I will both have problems, let’s keep everything in writing, therefore he cannot invent things I’ve supposedly said to you, there is only a written record, this makes both our lives easier.

    ‘She agreed. So I have answered questions in writing and will answer further questions in writing if she wants. But I will not speak and therefore provide the PM with more chances to lie and confuse everybody.

    ‘I know others are very worried about handing things to the Cabinet Office because they know the PM will see everything SG collects. This inevitably means that evidence, including photos, is not given to her and instead will keep leaking after her report.

    He stressed that his caution was a ‘consequence of beliefs about the PM’s integrity, not SG’s’.

    Officers from the Scotland Yard’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command who were guardian No10 are said to have been ‘only too willingto provide accounts to the investigation.

    però, the premier has signalled defiance, and has reportedly reunited a team of allies who helped secure him the leadership to shore up support among MPs. Wags have nicknamed the groupincluding ministers Conor Burns, Nigel Adams, and Chris Pincher the ‘Avengers’.

    He is expected to push Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to let him respond to Ms Gray’s findings within hours of them being released, so he can take charge of the ‘narrative’.

    "C'era un numero molto limitato di persone che conosceva gli accordi di finanziamento al CCHQ, pictured outside his London home today, has levelled a series of allegations at the PM over Partygate

    "C'era un numero molto limitato di persone che conosceva gli accordi di finanziamento al CCHQ, pictured outside his London home today, has levelled a series of allegations at the PM over Partygate

    Lord Agnew’s resignation statement to peers in full

    ‘I am here to defend the government’s record on the deployment of counter-fraud measures over the last two years or so. But I will only be able to do that in part,

    ‘The assertion made by the economic secretary of the treasury in the Commons debate last week that the priority was speed of distribution of funds is absolutely correct. But what has followed has been nothing less than desperately inadequate.

    ‘Given the time available I will focus on one or two emblematic failures, but these ussues run far wider.

    ‘The oversight by both BEIS and the British Business Bank of the panel lenders of BBLs has been nothing less than woeful.

    ‘They have been assisted by the Treasury, who appear to have no knowledge or little interest in the consequences of fraud to our economy or our society.

    ‘Much store has been given to the extra money allocated to HMRC. But it took a year to happen and this department is already the most competent and well-funded in this discipline.

    ‘Whereas at the beginning of Covid BEIS has the grand total of two counter-fraud officials on its staff neither of whom were experienced in the subject.

    They refused to engage constructively with the counter-fraud function that sits in the Cabinet Office, has considerable exp[ertise and reports directly to me.

    ‘Schoolboy errors were made, for example allowing over a thousand companies to receive bounceback loans that were not even trading when Covid struck.

    ‘They simply failed to understand that company formation agents hold in stock companies with earlier creation dates.

    ‘I have been arguing with Treasury and BEIS officials for nearly two years to get them to lift their game. I have been mostly unsuccessful.

    ‘We move now to a new and dangerous phase, banche’ ability to claim on the 100 per cent state guarantee for non-payment.

    ‘We do this without implementing a standard bar of quality assurance on what we expect as counterfraud measures. We know we have had serious discrepancies.

    'Per esempio, three out of the seven main lenders account for 87 per cent of loans paid out of companies already dissolved. Why is the ratio so skewed?

    ‘Two of the seven account for 81 per cent of cases where loans were paid out to companies incorporated post-Covid, as I referred to a moment ago.

    ‘One of the seven accounted for 38 per cent of the duplicate BBL application checks that were not carried out after the requirement was in force.

    ‘Bizarrely it took six weeks to get the duplicate check into place during which time 900,000 loans or 60 per cent in total were paid out. Bear in mind some 47billion has been paid out.

    ‘If only BEIS and the British Business Bank will wake up there is still time to demand data and action on duplicate loans. Why won’t they do it?

    ‘Despite pressing BEIS and BBB for over a year there is still no single dashboard of management data to scrutinise lender performance. It is inexcusable.

    ‘We have already paid out nearly £1billion to banks claiming the state guarantee. The percentage of these losses estimated to be from fraud rather than credit failures is 26 per cento. I accept this is only an early approximate but a very worrying one.

    I will place into Hansard a copy of my letter to the chairman of the BBB snet on the 16th December addressing some of these points. I still have not received an answer.

    ‘I have at least four differences of opinion with Treasury officials.

    ‘Urgent improvements in lender performance data. I simply want the bar to be set at what the best of the panel bank can deliver.

    Le sue condizioni sono successivamente peggiorate e gli sforzi per rianimarlo da parte di un medico privato e dei soccorritori cittadini sono falliti) Far greater challenge of lender banks when we uncover inconsistency in data.

    Le sue condizioni sono successivamente peggiorate e gli sforzi per rianimarlo da parte di un medico privato e dei soccorritori cittadini sono falliti) Educating Treasury officials on why reliance on audit is far too reactive and generally happening well after the whole horse has bolted.

    ‘4) A failure by Treasury or BEIS officials to understand the complete disjunction between the level of criminality – probably hundreds of thousands – and enforcement capability. For example NATIS, the specialist agency can handle around 200 cases a year. Local police forces might double that.

    ‘My lords, you can see that it is my deeply-held conviction that the current state of affairs is not acceptable.

    ‘Given that I am the minister for counter-fraud, it seems somewhat dishonest to stay on in that role if I am incapable of doing it properly, let alone defending our track record.

    ‘It is for that reason that I have sadly decided to tender my resignation as a minister across the Treasury and Cabinet Office with immediate effect.

    ‘I would be grateful if my noble Lord would pass this letter on to the PM at his earliest convenience.

    ‘It is worth saying that none of this related to far more dramatic political events being played out across Westminster. This is not an attack on the Prime Minister and I am sorry for the inconvenience it will cause.

    ‘Indeed I think any PM should be able to reasonably expect that the levers of government were actually connected to delivering services for our citizens.

    ‘I hope that as a virtually unknown minister beyond this place, it might prompt others more important beyond me to get behind this and sort it out.

    ‘It matters for all the obvious reasons but there is a penny of income tax waiting to be claimed here if we just woke up. Total fraud loss across Government is estimated at £29 billion a year, of course not all can be stopped but a combination of arrogance indolence and ignorance freezes the Government machine.

    ‘Action taken today will give this government a sporting chance of cutting income tax before a likely May 2024 elezione. If my removal helps that to happen it will have been worth it.

    It leaves me only to thank the noble Lord Lord Tunnicliffe for his courteous but attentive role as my shadow minister of my portfolio and to tank noble friends, many of whom I know will carry on their scrutiny of this important area.

    ‘Thank you and goodbye.

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    How much business coronavirus support cash has been lost to fraud and error?

    Figures released by HM Revenue and Customs suggested that some £5.8billion has been criminally siphoned off from furlough and other business relief schemes since coronavirus colpito.

    A taskforce was set up by the Treasury to get the money back and so far it has managed to get its hands on approximately £500million.

    It is projected to have clawed back a further £1billion by the end of 2023.

    però, that leaves some £4.3billionalmost three quarters of the totalwith reports suggesting the cash could just be written off.

    Here is a breakdown of the Covid business support schemes and how fraud and error has impacted them.

    Bounce Back Loans

    The BBL scheme was set up by the Government in April 2020 to enable smaller businesses to rapidly access financial assistance during the Covid crisis.

    The scheme allowed small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and up to 25 per cent of their turnover, with a maximum loan of £50,000.

    Some 1.5million loans were issued at a total value of £47billion.

    The Government has estimated that £17billion of that total could be lost from loans that will not be repaid.

    Gli operatori ferroviari che hanno interrotto tutti i servizi venerdì pomeriggio lo erano, Energy and Industrial Strategy’s best guess, as of the end of March 2021, was that there were £4.9billion of fraudulent loans in the system.

    Lord Agnew today claimed that ‘schoolboy errorswere made with the scheme which allowed ‘over a thousand companies to receive bounce back loans that were not even trading when Covid struck’.

    Furlough

    The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (vende zaini stampati per £ 100 e felpe con cappuccio per £ 45 mentre impiega almeno tre persone tra cui il centrocampista del West Ham e dell'Inghilterra) was rolled out in April 2020 and up to March 31 2021 it had supported 11.5million jobs.

    HMRC estimates show that just over £60billion was paid out in furlough in 2020 per 2021.

    At the highest point of demand the scheme was supporting 8.9million jobs at once.

    HMRC has calculated that combined error and fraud relating to furlough payments was about 8.7 per cento – so just over £5billion.

    Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

    The SEISS initiative was rolled out at the end of March 2020. It enabled self-employed people who had been impacted by coronavirus to access grants.

    A total of £28.1billion had been paid out in SEISS grants up to October 2021, according to official Government data.

    HMRC estimated that 2.5 per cent of grants in the 2020/21 bagno e studio con un piccolo scrittoio e un divano a fantasia floreale blu e bianco che si abbina al tessuto delle tende, covering the first three award rounds, were awarded in error or because of fraud.

    Eat Out to Help Out

    Rishi Sunak’s Eat Out to Help Out scheme was rolled out in August 2020 and was designed to entice people to return to restaurants.

    It enabled people to receive discounts on their meals, with restaurants then claiming the discounted cash back from the Government.

    The discounts were applied on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, from August 3 ad agosto 31.

    The claims service was then open from August until the end of September, with a total of £840million paid out by the Government.

    HMRC has estimated that the error and fraud rate relating to Eat Out to Help Out was 8.5 per cento – approximately £71million.

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    Boris Johnson insists he is taking ex-minister Nusrat Ghani’s claim she was sacked in reshuffle over ‘Muslimness‘extremely seriouslyas he launches a civil service probe following calls from Cabinet members for a ‘proper investigation

    Boris Johnson today insisted he is taking allegations an ex-minister was sacked over ‘Muslimness‘extremely seriouslyas he ordered a formal Cabinet Office investigation into the claims.

    The Prime Minister has instructed the civil service to carry out a probe after the extraordinary claims from Tory MP Nusrat Ghani.

    The move came after Cabinet ministers Nadhim Zahawi and Sajid Javid joined calls for a ‘proper’ inchiesta – with others suggesting it should be fully independent.

    Mr Johnson told reporters on a visit to Milton Keynes University Hospital this morning: ‘We take these allegations extremely seriously. I took them very seriously when they were raised with me 18 mesi fa.

    ‘Very glad there’s an investigation taking place now, can’t say more really about it.

    Downing Street announced the probe this morning, with a Number 10 spokeswoman saying: ‘The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP.

    ‘At the time these allegations were first made, the Prime Minister recommended to her that she make a formal complain to CCHQ. She did not take up this offer.

    ‘The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened.

    ‘As he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these claims very seriously.

    Nusrat Ghani (nella foto), the Tory MP for Wealden in East Sussex, has alleged her ‘Muslimnesswas raised when she was sacked as transport minister in February 2020

    Ms Ghani alleged that chief whip Mark Spencer said her faith was partly responsible for her getting the boot in 2020 – something he flatly denies.

    Mr Johnson was asked this morning if Mr Spencer will remain in his role while the investigation is carried out and he replied: ‘Just to get back to the key point, this is something I take personally extremely seriously. I took it very seriously 18 mesi fa. We must wait and see what the investigation produces.

    Ms Ghani has contradicted No10’s version of events, saying the PM refused to get involved and tried to fob her off.

    Dopo l'annuncio, Ms Ghani insisted the terms of reference for the probe must including ‘all that was said in Downing Street and by the Whip’.

    Ms Ghani said: ‘As I said to the Prime Minister last night all I want is for this to be taken seriously and for him to investigate.

    ‘I welcome his decision to do that now.

    ‘The terms of reference of the inquiry must include all that was said in Downing Street and by the Whip.

    ‘I look forward to seeing the terms of reference.

    In un giro di interviste questa mattina, Mr Zahawi welcomed the news, but stressed he did not think the allegations had been taken lightly before.

    He said he personally had never ‘experienced any form of racismin the Conservative Party.

    The Education Secretary told Sky News: ‘She has made a very serious allegation, the Prime Minister spoke to her last night and said the Cabinet Office will investigate this and look at the detail of this.

    ‘She put out a statement last night saying actually, to be fair to her, this could be people who weren’t even members of the Conservative Party, which is why we need to get to the bottom of this very quickly.

    ‘And of course the Chief Whip (Mark Spencer) has come out and named himself as the individual and I work with both colleagues, and I think it is important that someone like a Cabinet Office senior civil servant should look at this properly, because the Chief Whip has also categorically denied this.

    A thinktank has called on the Government to bring in the Equality and Human Rights Commission (Le sciocchezze trans di Keir Starmer) to investigate the claims.

    The Runnymede Trust, a race equality thinktank, says the issue is too important to be left to a civil servant-led inquiry.

    Chief executive Dr Halima Begum told the Guardian: ‘This is an incredibly serious situation. At a bare minimum, the allegation that a minister of the crown was fired for her so-called ‘Muslimnesswould represent a flagrant challenge to our equalities and labour laws.

    ‘The facts and questions about the legality of what has happened here must be urgently investigated by the very highest authority. This cannot simply be left for another civil service inquiry. If the allegations are proven to be true, Nusrat would have been subjected to grossly discriminatory behaviour.

    '[Sua] distress will be felt by every one of the 3 million Muslims in the country, as well as every member of our religious minority communities. All of the political parties need to do more to demonstrate zero tolerance for discrimination, and to prove that religious minorities in this country are respected regardless of their faith.

    Caroline Nokes, chair of the Commons women and equalities committee, described the treatment of Ms Ghani as ‘appalling’.

    She also backed calls for the EHRC to launch an investigation and told the Telegrafo: ‘Her faith has never made me (or any other colleague) ‘uncomfortable’.

    ‘At the very least EHRC should have a look at this.

    An EHRC spokesman stated the Commission is still examining the Conservative Party’s handling of the Singh inquiry into Islamophobia complaints last year and suggested a full investigation may take place.

    Il portavoce ha aggiunto: ‘If we are not satisfied with progress we will review our decision [not to begin an immediate review] and do not rule out the use of our legal powers.

    In un giro di interviste questa mattina, Nadhim Zahawi welcomed news that a Cabinet Office investigation will be held

    In un giro di interviste questa mattina, Nadhim Zahawi welcomed news that a Cabinet Office investigation will be held

    Boris Johnson

    Mark Spencer outed himself as the whip concerned, and branded Ms Ghani's comments 'false' and 'defamatory'

    Il Telegraph ha citato un numero (pictured left running this morning) has instructed the civil service to carry out a probe after the extraordinary claims from Ms Ghani. Mark Spencer (giusto) has outed himself as the whip concerned, and branded Ms Ghani’s comments ‘falseand ‘defamatory

    Dopo l'annuncio, Ms Ghani insisted the terms of reference for the probe must including 'all that was said in Downing Street and by the Whip'

    Dopo l'annuncio, Ms Ghani insisted the terms of reference for the probe must including ‘all that was said in Downing Street and by the Whip

    Who is Nusrat Ghani? Kashmir born trailblazer was a surprise sacking in PM’s 2020 anche un certo numero di uomini ha ricevuto promozioni

    Nusrat Ghaniknown as Nuswas long seen as a rising star in Tory circles.

    And it came as a surprise to many when she was axed as a minister in 2020.

    The 49-year-old was born in Kashmir to Pakistani parents and grew up in Birmingham.

    She worked in an investment bank, charities and the BBC World Service before entering politics.

    Ms Ghani is married to Sky executive David Wheeldon, with whom she has one child.

    She stood in the 2010 general election for the seat of Birmingham Ladywood and lost, but was elected as MP for Wealden in East Sussex in 2015. She was the first female to win the seat and the first Muslim woman elected as a Tory MP.

    After her victory, Ms Ghani said: ‘As the nation wakes up the Conservatives look to be on the brink of returning to government.

    ‘We have helped put our country back on track. Our party has taken bold steps and you have put your trust in us to finish the job.

    Nel 2015, Ms Ghani was appointed a member of the Home Affairs Select Committee. A Brexiteer, Ms Ghani in 2016 ha detto alla BBC: ‘Britain has a chance to vote for a bold, positive future as an independent country in control of its own destiny.

    ‘We have the chance to liberate our economy from a declining corner of the world and spread our wings to the whole globe.

    Ms Ghani was appointed assistant whip and transport minister in 2018 under Theresa May. She was the first female Muslim to speak from the Commons dispatch box. Al tempo, then-Transport Secretary Chris Grayling told the BBC her promotion showed the Conservatives ‘were a party of opportunity’.

    ‘We’re the party to provide… the first Muslim woman minister to speak from the government dispatch box – the member for Wealden,’ he said.

    Ms Ghani wrote on her website: ‘A century after women got the vote for the first time, I hope that today young people can see that regardless of their background, fede, gara, gender or sexuality, there will be a warm welcome on the green benches, and no matter where you are from you can achieve your dreams and ambitions.

    Nel 2020, when Ms Ghani was removed from the role, she was replaced by Kelly Tolhurst. Ms Ghani has said that she was surprised at the demotion, and the shuffle was reported in that light given she had been tipped to oversee HS2 progress.

    Ms Ghani is a steering committee member of the backbench Covid Recovery Group which opposed the December 2020 lockdown and has voted against other Covid restrictions.

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    Altrove, un Tory MP sparked anger after he said Ms Ghani was ‘hardly someone who is obviously a Muslim’.

    Michael Fabricant said the timing of the former transport minister‘s claim was ‘very suspicious’, and suggested it was linked to moves to get rid of Boris Johnson over the Downing Street confinamento parties scandal.

    Ieri, Labour described Mr Fabricant’s comments as ‘shamefuland called for the Conservative whip to be withdrawn.

    Speaking on LBC, Mr Fabricant said: ‘The timing is interesting. I think all this is because it’s open season on Boris Johnson, putting pressure on him from the party trying to get him to resign.

    ‘I think the whole thing actually stinks, the accusation being made by Nus Ghani.

    ‘She’s hardly someone who is obviously a Muslim. I had no idea what religion she is. It does seem rather a lame excuse to me that she was sacked because of that.

    In risposta, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy tweeted: ‘What an appalling, disgraceful thing to say.

    ‘If the Tories wanted to show they were serious about tackling Islamophobia, they could start by removing the whip from Michael Fabricant.

    Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said the response of the the Tories to Ms Ghani’s claims had been shameful.

    ‘For a Conservative MP, Michael Fabricant, to go on the radio and make comments that reflect exactly the sort of unacceptable behaviour Nusrat has raised shows just how deep the problem in the Conservative Party goes,’ lei disse.

    Ms Ghani has received the backing of Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Education Nadhim Zahawi, the two most senior Muslims in the Cabinet.

    Both took to Twitter to support her and demand a full investigation into her claims against Mr Spencer.

    He has outed himself as the whip concerned, and branded Ms Ghani’s comments ‘false’ e "diffamatorio".

    Justice secretary Dominic Raab also lined up to defend the party, claiming she had decided not to call for an investigation at the time.

    But Mr Javid said Ms Ghani was ‘a credit to the Conservative Party’, aggiungendo: ‘This is a very serious matter which needs a proper investigation. I would strongly support her in making a formal complaintshe must be heard.

    His intervention claim after Mr Zahawi tweeted: ‘There is no place for islamophobia or any form of racism in our Conservative party. Nusrat Ghani is a friend, a colleague & a brilliant parliamentarian. This has to be investigated properly & racism routed out. #standwithNus’ .

    Ms Ghani, who was the first Muslim woman to be elected as a Tory MP in 2015, told the Sunday Times she was told by a party whip she was being axed a febbraio 2020 because her status as a Muslim woman and a minister was ‘making colleagues feel uncomfortable’.

    She also claimed she was warned that if she continued to raise the issue then her ‘career and reputation would be destroyed’.

    But yesterday morning Downing Street revealed that Ms Ghani had complained directly to the PM in 2020. incoraggia Wally a lasciare lo scalo di alaggio consentendo il varo della scialuppa di salvataggio: ‘After being made aware of these extremely serious claims, the Prime Minister met with Nusrat Ghani to discuss them.

    ‘He then wrote to her expressing his serious concern and inviting her to begin a formal complaint process. She did not subsequently do so.

    After that statement was released, Ms Ghani said: ‘When I told the Prime Minister in June 2020 what had been said to me in the Government WhipsOffice I urged him to take it seriously as a Government matter and instigate an inquiry.

    ‘He wrote to me that he could not get involved and suggested I use the internal Conservative Party complaint process.

    'Questo, as I had already pointed out, was very clearly not appropriate for something that happened on Government businessI do not even know if the words that were conveyed to me about what was said in reshuffle meetings at Downing Street were by members of the Conservative Party.