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Tuesday, 14 May, 2002, 17:43 GMT 18:43 UK
MP's 'race joke' reported to police
Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith and Congleton MP Ann Winterton
Mr Duncan Smith acted swiftly to sack Mrs Winterton
Conservative MP Ann Winterton has been reported to the police for making a race joke at a rugby club dinner.

Mrs Winterton was dismissed as shadow rural affairs minister after making a joke about Asians being "10-a-penny" in Britain.

Cheshire Police said they would be looking into the complaint - which was lodged on Monday - about Mrs Winterton's comments.

She was sacked by Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith after she made the joke at Congleton Rugby Union club earlier this month.

Such 'jokes'... can and do make the lives of some Asians miserable and their physical safety problematic

Gerald Hartup, Liberty and Law

Gerald Hartup, director of a newly-formed pressure group, Liberty and Law, made the complaint against Mrs Winterton.

He wrote to Cheshire Chief Constable Nigel Burgess asking him to liaise with the Commission for Racial Equality and make a report to the Crown Prosecution Service.

A spokeswoman for Cheshire Police said: "A letter from a member of the public has been passed to our crime policy department and will be answered in due course."

Mr Hartup said: "Mrs Winterton's 'joke' was not only offensive but bound to have been seen as threatening by people of Asian origin.

"Such 'jokes', especially if made by politicians, falsely legitimise the hostility felt towards ethnic minorities by disturbed racist hooligans.

"They can, and do, make the lives of some Asians miserable and their physical safety problematic."

No comment

The MP for Congleton apologised for telling the joke.

After her dismissal on 5 May, Mrs Winterton said: "I have already stated that I apologise unreservedly if I offended anyone by the remarks I made in a speech at a private rugby club dinner on Friday evening.

"I accept with both sadness and regret, but without question, subsequent developments.

"All I ask now is that I be allowed to continue my constituency and Parliamentary work and responsibilities as a backbencher."

A spokesman for Mrs Winterton said the MP would not be making any further comment.

See also:

07 May 02 | UK Politics
Sacked MP regrets dismissal
06 Sep 01 | UK Politics
Tory's golly joke 'moronic'
20 Dec 00 | UK Politics
Senior Tory regrets Spice joke
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