Ian Payne 4am - 7am
Tory MP Bob Stewart surrenders party whip after being found guilty of racial abuse
4 November 2023, 13:19
Bob Stewart has surrendered the Conservative whip after being found guilty of racial abuse.
Listen to this article
The Beckenham MP informed Chief Whip Simon Hart that he wished to surrender the party whip until a possible appeal of his conviction is resolved, a government source said.
He 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 Lib Dems have led calls for Rishi Sunak to act against the "totally unacceptable" behaviour of the 74-year-old Conservative backbencher.
On Friday, Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring handed Stewart a fine of £600, with additional legal costs bringing the total to £1,435.
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, the court heard.
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, Stewart replied: "Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain."
He also told 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."
Stewart told the court that he is "not a racist" and that it had been "extremely offensive" for the demonstrator to suggest he was "corrupt".
The former British Army officer, who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, said he is a "friend" of the Middle Eastern country.
Stewart's office has been contacted for comment.