politics

Police launch hate incident probe after Tory candidate's 'turban remark'


Police are investigating reports of a ‘hate incident’ after a Tory election candidate allegedly told a Sikh rival he was “talking through his turban”.

Philip Dunne, who is bidding to keep the Ludlow seat he’s held since 2005, apologised unreservedly for offence caused by remarks he made to his Labour rival during a debate in a local church on Wednesday evening.

Mr Dunne’s remarks were not on camera and exactly what he said was not confirmed.

However, a post on Labour candidate Kuldip Sahota’s Facebook claimed: “Dunne insults Kuldip: ‘Kuldip you are talking through your turban’.

“Only after prompt by Kuldip did Dunne offer ‘unreserved apology’. Appalling.”

After the Facebook post, Mr Dunne said: “I apologised to Kuldip Sahota for my comments last night. I apologise again unreservedly for the offence caused.”

Today West Mercia Police confirmed they are investigating reports of the incident, and are treating those reports as a hate incident.

Labour’s Kuldip Sahota and Tory MP Philip Dunne at the Ludlow hustings

West Mercia Police said in a statement: “Officers are investigating reports of an incident that took place at an event in Church Stretton, Shropshire, on Wednesday evening.”

Local Policing Inspector Saf Ali added: “Officers are currently investigating the report, which is being treated as a hate incident.

“We take reports of such incidents extremely seriously and enquiries are currently ongoing.”

The Tories refused to suspend Mr Dunne, less than 24 hours after Boris Johnson promised a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to discrimination.

The Tory leader said his party operated a “one bounce” system for discrimination, but the Conservative Party said no formal action would be taken against Mr Dunne.

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According to witnesses, there was a sharp intake of breath and Mr Dunne only apologised at the end of the debate when he was told by Mr Sahota that the remarks were offensive.

A West Midlands Labour source told the PA news agency the hustings included a debate on anti-Semitism and Islamophobia in the UK. 

According to the West Mercia force’s website, a hate incident is any incident which the victim, or anyone else, thinks is based on someone’s prejudice towards them because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, disability or because they are transgender.

The webpage states: “Not all hate incidents will amount to criminal offences, but it is equally important that these are reported and recorded by the police.”





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