British MP fined for racial abuse after exchange with Bahrain activist

Former soldier Bob Stewart commanded UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia

Conservative MP Bob Stewart arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court for his trial. PA
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A British MP was found guilty of racial abuse and issued with a fine following an incident involving a Bahraini activist that took place last year outside a London government building.

Conservative MP Bob Stewart, 74, was convicted of a racially aggravated public order offence and ordered to pay £600 ($743) plus costs after a one-day trial at a court in central London.

The court imposed a penalty but warned it was not equivalent to labelling Stewart as a racist.

“I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not the case against him,” Judge Paul Goldspring said. “Good men can do bad things.”

Activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei confronted the former army officer after an event linked to the Bahrain embassy last December.

“Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss,” Stewart told Mr Alwadaei. “Go back to Bahrain.”

In footage played during a trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court, Stewart told Mr Alwadaei: “You're taking money off my country, go away”.

He also said: “Now shut up, you stupid man.”

The activist told Mr Goldspring he had been exercising his right to protest by questioning Stewart.

He said he had not intended to insult the MP, whom he accused of being financed by Bahrain.

Stewart apologised for his remarks last December, telling The Guardian, which first reported on the incident, he had been “persistently taunted”.

He commanded UN peacekeeping forces in Bosnia during the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, retiring from the military in 1996 before becoming an MP in 2010.

During the hearing, Stewart insisted: “I am not a racist.”

Updated: November 03, 2023, 8:19 PM