UK's ex-foreign minister to face probe over burqa remarks

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Theresa May is caught in a Tory civil war following a decision to consider disciplinary proceedings against Boris Johnson over his comments about Muslim women who wear the niqab.

Uxbridge MP Johnson made the comments in a Telegraph column and, according to the Metro, he will now face an investigation by an independent panel after complaints that his comments breached the Conservative Party's code of conduct.

"And I don't believe that just because somebody takes offence that means that therefore there has to be an inquiry which means that the individual can be shut down in terms of their ability to say what they believe". He is instead more likely to be told.

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.

Senior Conservative figures attacked the prime minister after the party confirmed that following a series of complaints, Mr Johnson is to face a full investigation.

The actor, who plays funnyman Mr Bean, said that you should only apologise for a "bad joke" and that on that basis - "no apology is required".

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The party's code of conduct states that Tory officials and elected representatives must "lead by example to encourage and foster respect and tolerance" and not "use their position to bully, abuse, victimize, harass or unlawfully discriminate against others".

But sources close to the former foreign secretary made clear earlier this week he stands by Monday's article, in which he argued against a burka ban, but said the face-covering veil was "oppressive" and "ridiculous".

"I fear an eruption of anger amongst our party's core voters and grassroots activities if this obsessive political correctness doesn't stop".

"The burqa and niqab are disgusting tribal ninja-like garments that are pre-Islamic, non-Koranic and therefore un-Muslim", he wrote in The Times. 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".

Boris Johnson's comments on the burka have been branded "inflammatory and divisive" by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

"You may not agree with the tone or the jokes, but we have a thing called freedom of speech in this country", Duncan Smith told the BBC's Today programme.