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MP surrenders Tory whip as he considers racist abuse conviction appeal

04 Nov 2023 3 minute read
MP Bob Stewart. Photo James Manning/PA Wire

An MP has surrendered the Conservative whip while he considers an appeal of his conviction for a racially aggravated public order offence, a UK Government source has said.

Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham was found guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday of racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats led calls for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to act against the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of the 74-year-old Conservative backbencher.

A Government source told PA news agency on Saturday that Mr Stewart has informed Chief Whip Simon Hart that he wishes to surrender the party whip until a possible appeal of his conviction is resolved.

Mr Stewart’s office has been contacted for comment.

The Conservative Party said it had no further updates on the situation.

On Friday, Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring found Mr Stewart guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence and handed him a fine of £600, with additional legal costs bringing the total to £1,435.

Row

It came after the court had been told that the MP had become embroiled in a row with a protester outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster on December 14 last year.

Mr Stewart had been attending an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy when Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei shouted “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”.

During a heated exchange, Mr Stewart replied: “Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain.”

He also told Mr Alwadaei: “You’re taking money off my country, go away!”

Mr Goldspring, despite mentioning Mr Stewart’s “immense positive character”, remarked: “I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not the case against him.

“Good men can do bad things.”

The MP told the court that he is “not a racist” and that it had been “extremely offensive” for the demonstrator to suggest he was “corrupt”.

Mr Stewart, a former British Army officer who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, said he is a “friend” of the Middle Eastern country.

Following his conviction, Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said Mr Sunak “urgently needs to get his house in order” and remove the whip from Mr Stewart after his “totally unacceptable” behaviour.

Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain had warned that failing to remove the whip would “send a dangerous message that behaviour like this is acceptable”.


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Fi yn unig
Fi yn unig
5 months ago

A subsequent appeal in this case could succeed on the grounds that the UK allows, unhindered by a toothless regulator, free/hate speech TV channels to engage in and support the kind of views this Tory MP has espoused. His legal team could simply point to these channels to seal the deal which will then raise the importance of giving the regulator razor sharp teeth to properly deal with such odious individuals who inspire race hate mobs.

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