Boris Johnson is facing an investigation into breaches of the Conservative Party code of conduct. The party has received dozens of complaints about the ex-foreign secretary's comments about Muslim women wearing burkas. The complaints will be looked at by an independent panel which could refer Mr Johnson to the party's board, which has the power to expel him.
The party declined to comment on the details of the investigation. A Conservative Party spokesman said: "The code of conduct process is strictly confidential." A source close to Mr Johnson offered no comment.
Mr Johnson has rejected calls to apologise for saying people wearing burkas looked like "letter boxes" or "bank robbers", in a Daily Telegraph column in which he also argued against a ban on full-face veils.
Critics have accused him of stoking Islamophobia to boost his Tory leadership ambitions but his supporters have said he was speaking up for "liberal values".
It comes as a watchdog which advises ex-ministers on taking new jobs ruled that Mr Johnson broke ministerial rules by taking up his weekly column at the Telegraph without consulting it first.