The British Government’s senior law officer has been accused of “offensive” comments after highlighting the British Pakistani community as a cause for concern over corruption.
Attorney General Dominic Grieve, who said he was referring “mainly” to the Pakistani community in his remarks, claimed some immigrants came from communities where corruption was “endemic”.
I can see many of them have come because of the opportunities that they get. But they also come from societies where they have been brought up to believe you can only get certain things through a favour culture.
In a newspaper interview published on Saturday, the Conservative party MP said the problem was not confined solely to the Pakistani community and British politicians had to “wake up” to the issue.
He told the Daily Telegraph that corruption could also be found in the “white Anglo-Saxon” community but he said it was a growing problem “because we have minority communities in this country which come from backgrounds where corruption is endemic”.
“It is something as politicians we have to wake up to.”
The MP said: “I can see many of them have come because of the opportunities that they get. But they also come from societies where they have been brought up to believe you can only get certain things through a favour culture.”
Asked if he was referring to the Pakistani community in his comments, Grieve told the newspaper: “Yes, it’s mainly the Pakistani community, not the Indian community. I wouldn’t draw it down to one. I’d be wary of saying it’s just a Pakistani problem.”
He used the interview to highlight the issue of electoral fraud as an area of particular concern.
In a later statement, he called for the subject of corruption to be debated “calmly and rationally” and insisted that it was not a problem that could be blamed on any single community.
He said: “The point I was making is that, as a law officer, it’s my duty to ensure the rule of law is upheld, and one of the issues that I feel requires close attention is any potential for a rise in corruption to undermine civil society.”
But Conservative Member of the European Parliament Sajjad Karim, the party’s legal affairs spokesman in the Parliament, hit out at Grieve.
“As a member of the British Pakistani community myself, I found these comments to be offensive, divisive; I do think they were ill advised and I’m afraid the very general way in which Dominic is trying to make the points that he is making will have the net effect of being seen as purely populist in nature,” he said.