Conservative MP Bob Stewart arrives at Westminster magistrates' court.
The Conservative Party is facing calls to suspend an MP after being found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence for telling an activist to “go back to Bahrain”.
Bob Stewart, the MP for Beckenham in south east London, has been fined £600 and ordered to pay legal costs of £835 following the verdict handed down by Westminster magistrates’ court on Friday, the BBC reported. Stewart will not be jailed.
The incident took place outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House on December 14 last year.
#Breaking Conservative MP Bob Stewart has been found guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court of a racially aggravated public order offence after telling an activist to “go back to Bahrain” during a protest in central London in December last year pic.twitter.com/u5but1LsKY
— PA Media (@PA) November 3, 2023
The charge followed a complaint from activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who says he is living in exile after being tortured in the Gulf state of Bahrain.
The MP was alleged to have told Alwadaei during an angry confrontation to “go back to Bahrain”, “get stuffed” and that he is “taking money off my country”.
Stewart, a former British Army officer, has represented Beckenham since 2010 and is currently the chairman of the all-parliamentary group on Bahrain.
Alwadaei, who said he was tortured after taking part in anti-government protests in the country, is the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy.
The BBC reported Paul Jarvis, prosecuting, telling the court: “Mr Alwadaei felt upset and humiliated by what had taken place.”
He added: “He (Stewart) demonstrated racial hostility towards Mr Alwadaei by way of his comments.”
However, the prosecutor said Stewart “was not motivated by racial hostility”.
Following the judgement, the Conservatives are facing calls for Stewart to lose the party whip, meaning he would have to sit in parliament as in independent MP.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter, Alwadaei said: “No-one should think twice about holding an MP or members of the government to account because of their skin colour.
“When I reported Mr Stewart to the Conservative Party, they didn’t take action against him and when he was charged, they refused to suspend him.
“Given today’s verdict, I expect them to take immediate action.”
Liberal Democrat chief whip Wendy Chamberlain MP said: “It’s time Sunak finally acted with integrity. This should start with immediately removing the whip from Bob Stewart.
“Failing to remove the whip sends a dangerous message that behaviour like this is acceptable.
“Rishi Sunak has allowed his first year as prime minister to he dogged in sleaze and scandal, the very least he could do now is to finally crack down on it.”