Burka row MP investigated by police

The MP for Kettering, Philip Hollobone, has confirmed that prosecutors are taking no action against him following his comments that wearing the piece of clothing is the religious equivalent of "going around with a paper bag on your head."

Earlier this year, Mr Hollobone sparked controversy by saying he had "huge sympathy'' with those who backed a ban on the face-covering veil in public places. In a debate in Parliament's Westminster Hall he raised the controversial issue, saying it was at the "crude end'' of the immigration argument.

The MP said: ``How ridiculous would the House of Commons be if we all wore burkas? How would Mr Speaker (John Bercow) be able to identify which Member to call next? It is the religious equivalent of going round with a paper bag over your head with two holes for the eyes. It is offensive in my view to want to cut yourself off from face-to-face contact or recognition with other members of the human race. I think we should certainly look at ways to tackle that issue.''

Phillip Hollobone MPHe later stood by those comments, telling Heart that "the whole idea of the burka is offensive to women, it demeans women and also shuts off those who wear it from the rest of us in society."

He also said that you could tell what a woman - wearing the veil - thought of British values and customs by such dress. 

Anjona Roy, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire's Rights and Equality Commission said those comments were prejudical and following discussions with local Muslim groups a decision was taken to make a formal complaint to police on the grounds of possible racial hatred.  She told Heart: "No one wants anyone else not to express their opinion it's how one does it.  One can do that in a way that respects other individuals and gets your point across - it's not about being thought police."

Mr Hollobone told us: "I was disappointed and disgusted that this taxpayer-funded body should seek this sort of action.  What we need is a debate on these issues not attempted criminal prosecutions."

The Crown Prosecution Service has decided not to pursue the matter