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Race bias behind peer suspension?

world Updated: Oct 20, 2010 01:38 IST
Dipankar De Sarkar
Dipankar De Sarkar
Hindustan Times
Lord Swraj Paul

A recommendation by a House of Lords committee for the suspension of three Asian-origin peers has sparked off talk of racial bias, a Labour source claimed on Tuesday as Lord Swraj Paul — one of the three — complained of being treated more harshly than others involved in Britain’s expenses scandal.

“I am disappointed that I seem to have been treated more harshly than others,” Paul said in a statement that pointed to inconsistencies in the way the House of Lords handled complaints against peers.

“Some of those peers accused of making incorrect claims were dealt with by the Clerk of the Parliaments, some by the Privileges Committee. Some have been subject to an inquiry, some have not; some have apologised, some have not; some have voluntarily repaid the sums incorrectly claimed, some have been asked to repay those sums; now, for the first time, three peers have been suspended while others have escaped suspension,” said the Caparo Group founder and chairman.

A Labour source who did not want to be named told HT: “People are wondering if there’s a race element in it. No one’s saying it publicly but it’s being hinted at.” Another Labour activist, a member of the London Legislative Assembly said: “These three seem to have been disproportionately targeted.”

Paul resigned his membership of the Labour party on Monday, but will consider re-applying next year.