Belfast Telegraph

Friday 28 November 2014

Grieve sorry over corruption remark

Attorney General Dominic Grieve claimed some immigrants came from communities where corruption was
Attorney General Dominic Grieve claimed some immigrants came from communities where corruption was "endemic"

The Government's most senior law officer has apologised for any offence caused by remarks about corruption in Britain's Pakistani community.

Attorney General Dominic Grieve said he had not intended to suggest there was a "particular problem in the Pakistani community".

In an interview with the Daily Telegraph Mr Grieve said corruption was "endemic" in some communities and he was "mainly" referring to those of Pakistani origin.

He has apologised for the remarks, which were branded "offensive" by a senior Tory MEP.

In a statement Mr Grieve said: "If I gave the impression that there is a particular problem in the Pakistani community, I was wrong.

"It is not my view. I believe the Pakistani community has enriched this country a great deal as I know full well from my extensive contact with the community over a number of years. I'm sorry if I have caused any offence."

Mr Grieve told the Daily Telegraph that corruption could also be found in the "white Anglo-Saxon" community but he said it was a growing problem "because we have minority communities in this country which come from backgrounds where corruption is endemic".

"It is something as politicians we have to wake up to."

The MP for Beaconsfield said: "I can see many of them have come because of the opportunities that they get. But they also come from societies where they have been brought up to believe you can only get certain things through a favour culture.

"One of the things you have to make absolutely clear is that that is not the case and it's not acceptable."

Asked if he was referring to the Pakistani community in his comments, Mr Grieve told the newspaper: "Yes, it's mainly the Pakistani community, not the Indian community. I wouldn't draw it down to one. I'd be wary of saying it's just a Pakistani problem."

He used the interview to highlight the issue of electoral fraud as an area of particular concern.

But Tory MEP Sajjad Karim, the party's legal affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, hit out at Mr Grieve.

He told the BBC: "As a member of the British Pakistani community myself, I found these comments to be offensive, divisive; I do think they were ill-advised and I'm afraid the very general way in which Dominic is trying to make the points that he is making will have the net effect of being seen as purely populist in nature."

It was "quite clear when one carries out even the most basic examination of the claims that he is making that the facts do not support the argument that he is presenting".

Mr Karim added: "It's absolutely essential that if any politician in an influential position, regardless of whatever personal political ambitions that individual may have, it is essential that they do not try and behave in a way that creates a general impression about any particular community.

"If Dominic has got any individual specific points he wants to make in relation to voter fraud or anything of that nature that's quite a separate issue and can be looked at.

"But to try and generalise in this way and to paint all British Pakistani community members in a certain light, I'm afraid that is simply something that cannot be ignored and it is certainly not something that the British public at large will accept from Dominic at all."

Tory chairman Grant Shapps said it was wrong to single out a particular community.

He told the BBC: " Of course corruption needs to be rooted out wherever it is in this country. But we think that's something that needs to be tackled everywhere, not in a specific community."

Mr Shapps said the Pakistani community has "done an awful lot to work in this country and actually is a well-respected, established community that I think has lent a lot to Britain".

He added: "I don't agree that pinpointing one community over another is the right thing to do. Actually corruption is something which, wherever it is, this Government wants to root it out.

"If it's in voting, for example, then we have already passed a piece of legislation which means that people have to individually register for votes in the future. That will solve that problem.

"Wherever corruption exists we'll make sure we root it out but we certainly don't want to pin that on any particular communities."

Mr Karim welcomed the Attorney General's apology.

In a message on Twitter the North West England MEP said: "Completely accept Dominic Grieve's apology. Thank you."

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