Downing Street issued an apology to a Conservative association chairman who resigned over the party's handling of Islamophobia complaints, according to leaked letters.

Buzzfeed News carried details of Number 10's involvement in the case of Ajay Jagota, who resigned as chairman of the South Shields Conservative association in January, criticising the "failure" of the party to deal with his allegation.

In a letter to party chairman Brandon Lewis, which was copied to Theresa May, Mr Jagota said he had been subjected to "racist comments" but, despite raising the issue several times, had not had a response.

One of the Prime Minister's advisers, David Beckingham, then wrote to Mr Jagota in February saying he was "sorry to read of your concerns and that you had not received a response regarding your complaint".

He said: "I have spoken to Conservative campaign headquarters who have assured me that your complaint is being investigated and that you will receive an update shortly.

"I am sorry again to hear your concerns and I hope that this matter can be resolved satisfactorily."

It comes amid heavy criticism over the Conservative Party's handling of Islamophobia, with a senior Tory peer calling for an independent inquiry into "institutional" Islamophobia in the party.

Former minister Baroness Warsi warned the party's failure to address the issue within its ranks risked damaging Conservative chances at the next election.

Lady Warsi, who was the first Muslim woman to have a seat at the Cabinet table, said there was a "deep-rooted problem" in the party and Theresa May had failed to act.

By Harriet Line