Andrew Bridgen: Johnson's investigation is a "dark day" for democracy

FILE Boris Johnson

He said he opposed banning burqas and other face-covering garments worn by some Muslim women, but referred to a woman wearing the attire as "looking like a bank robber".

Although Johnson is not short of critics, he has found an ally in Mr Bean star Rowan Atkinson who was seemingly tickled by Boris' column.

Following complaints and his refusal to apologise, he now faces an inquiry into whether he broke his Conservative party's code of conduct.

"As a lifelong beneficiary of the freedom to make jokes about religion, I do think that Boris Johnson's joke about wearers of the burqa resembling letterboxes is a pretty good one", Atkinson wrote in a letter to The Times newspaper, published on Friday. "Extraordinary to think he was foreign secretary only a few weeks ago". A leading imam from at the Oxford Islamic Congregation, Dr Taj Hargey, said the MP and former Mayor of London should "not apologise for telling the truth".

But Mrs May, amid calls from Tory peer Lord Sheikh for Mr Johnson to be removed from the party, has insisted Mr Johnson apologise, saying his remarks "clearly caused offence".

In a letter to The Times, he wrote: "You should really only apologise for a bad joke".

One backbencher told The Independent the handling of the affair by Ms May and other party leaders had been so poor that it has increased the chances of a leadership challenge over the summer.

A Conservative MP has said it is a "very dark day" for United Kingdom democracy and free speech over the independent investigation into Boris Johnson's comments about the burqa.

Mr Mitchell, who was chief whip in 2012 and global development secretary before that, told BBC Two's Newsnight: "I don't think he should apologise".

He went on to say: "But let's look at what Boris said: he expressed himself in quite colourful language".

'Full bandwagon jumping territory'Conor Burns, Tory MP for Bournemouth West'It's bash Boris'Andrew Bridgen, Tory MP for North West Leicestershire " This [inquiry is] being use to try and discredit Boris Johnson from people who are anxious about him in inside the Conservative party and outside the Conservative party. "But he hasn't committed any offence".

He explained there was a complaints procedure within the Conservative Party and that the Party had a mechanism for dealing with these issues. "Nevertheless we do so because we believe it is a means to get closer to God", it added.

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