London: A top British official on Saturday said corruption is rife among some ethnic groups in the country, especially Pakistanis, sparking angry reactions from community leaders.
"Some minority communities come from backgrounds where corruption is endemic. We as politicians have to wake to up to it," Attorney General Dominic Grieve told The Daily Telegraph in an interview.
Asked if he was referring to the Pakistani community in his remarks, he said: "Yes, it`s mainly the Pakistani community, not the Indian community.
"I wouldn`t draw it down to one. I`d be wary of saying it`s just a Pakistani problem."
But a Pakistani Labour Party MP branded Grieve`s comments as divisive.
Khalid Mahmood, who came to the UK from Pakistan as a child, said the Attorney-General was marking out the Pakistani community as "more corrupt" than other minority groups and trying to "divide and conquer" within communities.
Grieve, the Conservative Party MP, said the problem arose as some of Britain`s minority communities "come from societies where they have been brought up to believe you can only get certain things through a favour culture".
"One of the things you have to make absolutely clear is that that is not the case and it`s not acceptable. As politicians these are issues we need to pay some attention to."
He pointed to electoral corruption being a particular issue among these communities.
Earlier this year, the UK`s Electoral Commission had announced it was considering introducing ballot box identity checks in Tower Hamlets, east London, in an effort to stamp out electoral fraud in areas with large South Asian communities.
Later in a statement, the country`s senior-most law officer was forced to clarify his comments as they sparked anger among certain sections.
However, Grieve said: "The point I was making is that, as a law officer, it`s my duty to ensure the rule of law is upheld, and one of the issues that I feel requires close attention is any potential for a rise in corruption to undermine civil society.
"I believe this is an issue which needs to be addressed calmly and rationally. I am absolutely clear that this problem is not attributable to any one community, as I know very well from my many years promoting community cohesion."
Tory ministers have avoided singling out particular communities over political corruption.
However, in 2010, Pakistani-origin Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, now minister for faith in Prime Minister David Cameron`s Cabinet, had claimed the Tories lost three seats at the general election as a result of voter fraud within the Asian community.