Meeting with Bob Blackman MP

On Thursday 14 June, CMF Chairman Mohammed Amin and CMF Deputy Chairman Ash Zaman met with Bob Blackman MP in his Parliamentary office.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the circumstances of Mr Tapan Ghosh’s visit to Parliament on 18 October 2017 when he spoke at an event. Mr Blackman sponsored a room for the event organiser.

Mr Zaman explained to Mr Blackman that when British Muslims are concerned by any actions of any Conservatives, they expect, quite reasonably, that the CMF will look into their concerns and respond.

Our goal with such concerns is to act as a bridge between British Muslims and the Conservative Party, thereby pre-emptively addressing issues that may need to negative publicity for the Party. Our overall goal is to increase the willingness of Muslims to vote Conservative. Also, by demonstrating the Party’s overall inclusiveness, to increase the willingness of other voters to support the Party.

That was why Mr Amin had written to Mr Blackman after being approached by a Muslim journalist about the event at which Tapan Ghosh had spoken.

Mr Blackman explained that on the afternoon of Wednesday 18th October 2017, he was the Parliamentary sponsor of two separate events in Parliament that took place simultaneously:

  1. A Diwali Reception which was held on the House of Commons Riverside Terrace.
  2. A meeting held in House of Commons Committee Room 12 organised by the National Council of Hindu Temples (UK), “NCHTUK” an organisation well known to Mr Blackman.

Mr Blackman split his time between each event.

It was event (2) at which Mr Ghosh spoke. Mr Blackman explained that he was not involved in selecting or approving the speakers for event (2); he had left that to NCHTUK. Indeed, he had never heard of Mr Ghosh before 18 October 2017.

On the day, Mr Blackman was present in the meeting while Mr Ghosh was being introduced, but Mr Blackman then left and was not present during Mr Ghosh’s talk or the rest of event (2).

Although Mr Blackman had previously been unaware of Mr Ghosh or his views, after learning about Mr Ghosh’s views Mr Blackman had confirmed in his Parliamentary answer to Naz Shah MP on 26 October 2017 that Mr Blackman, and also NCHTUK, did not agree with or endorse the views that Mr Ghosh had expressed prior to 18 October 2017. The relevant extract from Hansard in on the CMF website page at this link.

Mr Blackman confirmed to Mr Amin and Mr Zaman that Mr Ghosh will never be invited to attend any event in Parliament, or elsewhere, which is sponsored by Mr Blackman unless Mr Ghosh repudiates the views regarding Muslims that he has previously expressed.

Mr Blackman informed Mr Amin and Mr Zaman of his strong relations with Muslim organisations within his constituency of Harrow East. He mentioned the following:

  • Supports a Sri Lankan Muslim centre in the constituency.
  • Attended meetings at mosques in the locality when invited and diary permits.
  • Advocated a Muslim free school in the Harrow area and working with key persons.
  • Established and now Chairs the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Council of Sri Lankan Muslims Organisations UK.

    The meeting also discussed why there had been no response from Mr Blackman to Mr Amin’s communications that led to the CMF adding to its website the page at this link.

    Mr Zaman pointed out that if Mr Blackman had responded to our initial communications, it would hopefully have been possible to address the issues very quickly.

    Mr Blackman explained the member of staff that Mr Amin had spoke with on 8 November 2017 had left his employment in between. She had not raised Mr Amin’s phone call and related email with Mr Blackman. Nor had he seen the hard copy of Mr Amin’s letter of 16 December 2017 to Sir Patrick McLouglin; it was possible that if the letter arrived in his office his staff may have concluded that no action was required as the letter itself was not addressed to Mr Blackman. Nor had Conservative Party Chairman Rt Hon Brandon Lewis MP contacted Mr Blackman about the matter.

    Hence the lack of response to Mr Amin.

    Mr Amin explained that, at present, due to the coverage the Tapan Ghosh incident has had in the media, and the limited communication from Mr Blackman, some British Muslims had questioned Mr Blackman’s relationship with the community. That was not consistent with the relationship between Mr Blackman and Muslims in Harrow East that Mr Blackman had informed us of during the meeting.

    Mr Amin informed Mr Blackman that as CMF Chairman he would like to invite Mr Blackman to attend as his guest the CMF Eid Reception planned for Wednesday 24 October 2018, and to be one of the speakers.

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    The Conservative Muslim Forum was founded by Lord Sheikh in 2005. All of its members are full members of the Conservative Party.