BORIS Johnson has agreed to launch an investigation into Islamophobia on Downing Street after a former minister said she was sacked due to concerns about her “Muslimness”.

Following a phone conversation with Nusrat Ghani on Sunday evening, the Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to “establish the facts” regarding the claims made by the Conservative East Sussex MP.

Johnson said: “We take these allegations extremely seriously, I took them very seriously when they were raised with me 18 months ago… very glad there’s an investigation taking place now.

“I can’t say more, really, about it.”

A senior Cabinet Official civil servant, Sue Gray, is already carrying out a separate investigation into allegations that lockdown-busting parties were held in Downing Street.

Ghani has claimed that she was removed as a transport minister because of concerns about her Muslim faith.

She said that when she raised the matter with Johnson directly after losing her job in a February 2020 ministerial reshuffle, he told her he could not get involved.

Dominic Raab also claimed on Sunday that no probe could be launched unless Ghani made a formal complaint.

However, under pressure from other Tory ministers, the opposition and the Muslim Council of Britain, Johnson has now ordered an inquiry.

The National:

READ MORE: Muslim Council of Britain demands legal probe into sacking of Tory minister

Chief Whip Mark Spencer, who has admitted speaking to her, angrily denied her claims, saying they were “completely false” and “defamatory”.

Asked whether Spencer could stay in post while the investigation was conducted,  Johnson dodged the question, saying: “This is something I take personally extremely seriously, I took it very seriously 18 months ago, we must wait and see what the investigation produces.”

A No 10 spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has asked the Cabinet Office to conduct an inquiry into the allegations made by Nusrat Ghani MP.

“At the time these allegations were first made, the Prime Minister recommended to her that she make a formal complain to CCHQ (Conservative Campaign Headquarters).

“She did not take up this offer.

“The Prime Minister has now asked officials to establish the facts about what happened.

“As he said at the time, the Prime Minister takes these claims very seriously.”

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi, who on Sunday backed a probe into the allegations, said it was “important” the matter was looked into “properly”.

Speaking to Sky News on Monday, the Cabinet minister said: “She has made a very serious allegation, the Prime Minister spoke to her last night and said the Cabinet Office will investigate this and look at the detail of this.

“She put out a statement last night saying actually, to be fair to her, this could be people who weren’t even members of the Conservative Party, which is why we need to get to the bottom of this very quickly.

“And of course the Chief Whip has come out and named himself as the individual and I work with both colleagues, and I think it is important that someone like a Cabinet Office senior civil servant should look at this properly, because the Chief Whip has also categorically denied this.”

In comments made later to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, the Education Secretary praised Ghani’s “bravery”, as he called for the Whitehall inquiry to be concluded “swiftly”.

He added: “This is very serious, it takes a lot of bravery for someone to stand up and say: ‘My religion was taken into consideration when I was being assessed for what I do as a job.’

“That should never happen and there is no room for it.”

Labour’s shadow women and equalities secretary, Anneliese Dodds, welcomed the inquiry into the allegations but said it “doesn’t replace the need for an immediate investigation into whether the Chief Whip broke the ministerial code”.