St John Ambulance asks Tory MP to step back after reports he mixed up Asian ministers

Conservative MP James Gray has been asked to step back from activities with St John Ambulance, after reports he mixed up two Asian ministers at an event saying "they all look the same to me".

The MailOnline has reported he confused then-vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi with Health Secretary Sajid Javid.

Following the event, St John Ambulance said it did not "tolerate racism". Gray acknowledged that he mixed-up the two men but denies saying "they all look the same to me".

Speaking to the BBC, the North Wiltshire MP said: "I think I said 'I mixed you up', something like that", adding that it was a "very silly non-story".

He said he hadn't been contacted by the charity about stepping back from his role and had even received an invitation on Tuesday to one of their events.

However, the BBC has been told the charity spoke to Gray over a week ago about stepping back from his involvement with the charity and that the invitation to the MP from St John Ambulance was inadvertently sent out and would be retracted.

He was accused of making the remarks in September at a reception in Parliament held to celebrate the work of St John Ambulance's volunteers and staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a Commander in the Order of St John, the parent charity of St John Ambulance, Gray was hosting the event.

According to the reports, he was introducing Mr Zahawi to the stage but instead referred to him as Sajid Javid, who was also at the event.

After his mistake, the MP is said to have told the audience: "They all look the same to me."

Gray also denies reports Mr Zahawi spoke to him about the incident at the event, adding that the men are close friends.

Asked for a response, the Conservative Party said to the BBC: "These comments were misjudged. We do not tolerate racism or discrimination of any kind."

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