Birmingham & Black Country

'I was aghast': Stourbridge Tory association deputy resigns

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Media captionGeneral election 2019: Stourbridge resignation over Islamophobia claims

A deputy chair of Stourbridge Conservative Association has resigned amid claims of Islamophobia within the party.

Kyle Pedley said he was "aghast" at comments made during a local election selection meeting in October.

The chairman of Stourbridge Conservative Association denies any Islamophobia in his party.

Conservative central office says any claims of discrimination are always investigated thoroughly.

Mr Pedley has been a deputy chairman since August 2019 and he participated in a selection for candidates for the local council.

'Are you really a Muslim?'

He says in his first meeting as an officer they interviewed a candidate for selection for the local council.

"As soon as his two-minute pitch ended, he was faced with a barrage of questioning which was factored around one thing and one thing alone, and that was his religion and his race.

"It was 'Are you really a Muslim? Do you pray five times a day? How many times a year do you go to the mosque?'"

Image caption Baroness Warsi says she is "not surprised" by the allegations

Mr Pedley added: "When he went out of the room the first topic of conversation was not about his merit, it was along the lines of 'do we need an Asian?'"

Mr Pedley says he sent two complaints to Conservative central office, the first three weeks ago, including one to the Conservative chairman's office.

'Mystified' by resignation

Other than an acknowledgement he says the party has not followed up with an investigation.

The chairman of the Stourbridge Conservative Association said there was no Islamophobia in his association and was "mystified" at Mr Pedley's resignation from the party.

He said he did not remember or recall the details of the selection meeting as described by Mr Pedley.

Image copyright Kyle Pedley
Image caption Kyle Pedley was an activist for the Conservative Party

Politics Live has spoken to another member of the Stourbridge Association who is a Muslim, and he said he never witnessed any discrimination within the party.

Baroness Warsi, the former co-chair of the Conservatives who has pushed for an inquiry into Islamophobia in the party, said she was "shocked" but "not surprised" by the allegations.

"This is really a reflection of the kind of things that I've been hearing now over four years, happening in associations up and down the country."

A Conservative Party spokesperson said:

"The Conservative Party will never stand by when it comes to prejudice and discrimination of any kind. Serious allegations such as these are always investigated thoroughly, which is testament to the seriousness with which we take such issues.

"Our complaints process is rightly a confidential one and there are a wide range of sanctions including suspension and expulsion which are applied on a case-by-case basis."

Update 27 November 2019: Since this article was first published the Conservative Party has told the BBC that a formal investigation was launched in response to Mr Pedley's complaint, and that they wrote to him three days later to confirm this.

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