The former head of Britain’s equality watchdog has been suspended from the country’s opposition Labour party over accusations of Islamophobia.
Trevor Phillips, a past chairman of the UK’s Equality and Human Rights Commission and an antiracism campaigner, has been put under investigation for comments he made a number of years ago.
He faces possible expulsion over the statements, The Times reported.
The remarks include comments Mr Phillips made regarding the outlook of Britain's Muslim community as well as a case in which Pakistani men abused children in northern British towns.
The Labour Party's general secretary Jennie Formby said Mr Phillips's suspension had been brought into effect as a matter of urgency to "protect the party's reputation".
But the former watchdog chief has argued that the party, in which he was once an active member, has tried to restrict debate.
"I'm surprised about what is and always has been an open and democratic party deciding that its members cannot have healthy debate about how we address differences of values and outlooks,” he told the BBC.
"Muslims are different and, in many ways, I think that's admirable," he said.
In the past, Mr Phillips has railed against an All-Party Parliamentary Group on British Muslims’ definition of Islamophobia. The definition has been adopted by the Labour Party.
During the UK’s 2019 election, Labour had looked to hit out at their Conservative rivals over accusations of Islamophobia against the centre-right party.
At the same time, Labour was forced to fend off accusations of anti-Semitism in its own ranks.
During the elections, Mr Philips ruled out voting for Labour, led by Jeremy Corbyn, over the party leadership’s failure to deal with the accusations.