Members of Harrow Borough Council's Independent Labour group have claimed there is 'institutional racism' within the authority's Labour group.

The group made the claims at a press conference today, three weeks after new group's nine members announced their split from the previous ruling Labour Party.

The rift came following claims of discrimination and racism within the party with over its leadership and leadership of the council.

At the conference councillor Nana Asante said: “We believe there is institutional racism within the Harrow Labour party. Individuals in the party are not racist but it can be seen within the collective decisions made by the group.

“There is a pattern of treatment from Harrow Labour Party towards members of our group according to race.

“We have had to put up with it for three years but there comes a point when you have to make a stand.

“These are serious claims and we want to see some sort of independent inquiry carried out."

Group chairman Councillor Krishna James said: “We are the real Labour group and we are all committed Labour Party supporters and we will be working to implement Labour policies.

“We saw that the cabinet was not a fair representation of the demography of the borough and be believed that was not right.”

She said the final straw came at the Labour group’s annual meeting, at which Cllr David Perry made a surprise challenge for the leadership against councillor Thaya Idaikkadar.

The Harrow Times has contacted the Harrow Labour Group about the claims of institutional racism and are awaiting a reply.

The Labour group has previously strongly denied any claims of racism in the party and its selection of its leader.