A Tory MP has been ordered to step back from a ceremonial charity role after mixing up two Asian Cabinet ministers at a parliamentary reception.
North Wiltshire MP James Gray was accused of saying that the-then Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi and Health Secretary Sajid Javid “look the same to me” when he confused the pair.
The 66-year-old was speaking at a reception to honour St John Ambulance volunteers last month.
He is understood to have been asked to step down from his role as “commander of charity” following the events.
But he has escaped censure from the Tories, who will not suspend him from the party.
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Mr Gray mixed up Iraq-born Mr Zahawi, who wears glasses and has a beard, and clean-shaven Mr Javid, whose family hails from Pakistan.
When his error was pointed out, Mr Gray allegedly told guests: “They all look the same to me”. Mr Gray denied saying this
Mr Zahawi was reportedly spoke to him privately afterwards, while Mr Javid had not arrived when the incident took place.
A St John Ambulance spokesman told the Mirror: “St John does not tolerate racism in any way, shape or form.
“We spoke with James Gray following the event about our values as an open, inclusive and progressive charity.”
It is understood that the charity has now asked the MP to stand down from all St John Ambulance activity.
Mr Gray failed to respond to requests for comment from the Mirror.
He told MailOnline he had not said, “They all look the same to me”, but admitted confusing the two ministers.
He added: “I said, ‘I am sorry to confuse the two of you. You two look very alike’. I said, ‘I am sorry if I got you two mixed up’.”
A source told the newspaper: “He acknowledged to the audience that his comments weren’t appropriate but in a low-key, jokey way.”
They added that many of the volunteers were upset.
A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind.”
It comes after Mr Gray was forced to apologise last month for suggesting a bomb should be planted in a Labour MP’s office.
He said he meant “no offence” with the comment about Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds, which that he posted in a WhatsApp group ahead of Labour conference in Brighton.