[Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, MP has apologised for claiming corruption is “endemic” within Britain's Pakistani community]
By Alishba Khaliq
Conservative MP and the Government’s Attorney General, Dominic Grieve, has apologised for “any offence” caused by his remark that corruption is “endemic” in certain ethnic minority communities.
In an interview with the Telegraph Grieve said that the growth of corruption in Britain was due to “minority communities in this country which come from backgrounds where corruption is endemic” and that politicians need to “wake up” to this.
While acknowledging that the integration of immigrants in the UK has been more successful than in most other European countries, Grieve felt that in order to uphold the democratic and legal values of this country corruption had to be stemmed. He stated that immigrants often “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.” Although Grieve stated that corruption was not confined to “any one community” he remarked that it is particularly a problem in “the Pakistani community”.
His comments attracted criticism from various quarters. Labour MP Khalid Mahmood said they were calculated to “divide and conquer”, while Chairman of the Liberal Democrat’s Friends of Pakistan group, Qassim Afzal, said that he was “profoundly disturbed at a statement from such a senior Conservative MP against the British Pakistani community.”
The Conservative Chairman, Grant Shapps, 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.” He added that 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.”
The Pakistani High Commission in London also criticised Grieve’s remarks, calling them “negative and divisive”. In a statement it commented: “The High Commission for Pakistan to the UK finds these remarks by Mr Grieve MP totally unfounded towards the strong Pakistani diaspora in the UK that contributes nearly £30 billion to the British GDP and is in the forefront of efforts for cementing interfaith and multi-ethnic harmony in a country home to millions of people of diverse backgrounds.”
Sajjad Karim, MEP and the Conservative Party’s legal affairs spokesman in the European Parliament, said that “as a member of the British Pakistani community myself, I found these comments to be offensive, divisive”. He added, “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 members in a certain light, I’m afraid that is simply something that cannot be ignored.”
In his interview Grieve referred particularly to electoral fraud as an example of corruption and cited the instance of Tory Councillor for Slough, Eshaq Khan, who was found to be involved in postal vote related fraud in 2008 and sentenced to jail a year later.