A Tory MP who suggested that the majority of criminals in Britain were black has been reprimanded by party officials
Bob Spink, the Conservative MP for Castle Point, Essex, who denied that he was being racist, made the claim in an email to a constituent.
Tory sources said yesterday that "senior party officials" had spoken to the MP to make clear the unhappiness of David Cameron, the party leader, with the "clumsy" way he had expressed himself.
While they accepted Mr Spink's assurances that he was not being racist, party officials said Mr Cameron would not have tackled such a sensitive issue in that way.
The Tory leader has sought to show that the party has abandoned its "nasty" image to become more welcoming to ethnic minorities.
Mr Spink's comments came in response to an email that asked: "Are you saying that a lot more criminals are black than white — or that there are more black people in jail than white because they are stopped more often?"
According to the Daily Mirror, Mr Spink replied: "The former, and that's what people don't seem to like. But I didn't enter a beauty contest when I became an MP."
Mr Spink said yesterday that the way the comments had been portrayed was "disingenuous" and "politically mischievous".
"I was simply repeating to my constituent the answers that the Home Secretary had put down to me in the House of Commons," he said. "He told the House of Commons that, pro rata, many more young black men are known to the criminal justice system than young white men."
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