Yorkshire MP did not break Conservative code of conduct over remarks on coronavirus rule following, panel finds

A Yorkshire MP has been cleared by his party of breaking its code of conduct over comments made around Muslim communities not following coornavirus rules.

Conservative MP for Calder Valley Craig Whittaker came under fire in July last year after he said there were "sections of the community that are not taking the pandemic seriously" in his constituency, where there is a high number of Asian residents

Speaking on LBC Radio he was asked if he was talking about the Muslim community, and he replied: "Of course."

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He added: "If you look at the areas where we've seen rises and cases, the vast majority, but not by any stretch of the imagination all areas, it is the BAME communities that are not taking this seriously enough."

File photo of Calder Valley MP Craig Whittaker. Photo: UK Parliament/Jessica Taylor

Tory peer Baroness Warsi said at the time that the remarks were "divisive nonsense" and Labour deemed them "overtly racist" but Mr Whittaker said he would continue to highlight how the pandemic was disproportionately impacting BAME communities.

The comments prompted complaints to the Conservative Party, and in an email from the party’s complaints team to a constituent, seen by The Yorkshire Post, it was confirmed Mr Whittaker had faced a QC-led disciplinary panel.

The party has now said this panel found no breach of the party’s code of conduct.

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “An Independent QC led panel found that there was no breach of the Party’s Code of Conduct by Craig Whittaker MP.”

But Rebecca Boden, one of those who submitted a complaint in August 2020, said she remained dissatisfied.

She said she had been given “no details on who the panel members were and their reasoning, or what the outcome was”.

And she added that she felt it was a “seriously deficient approach to considering these very serious allegations”.

Mr Whittaker was approached for comment.