UK lawmaker faces racism public order charge

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – 2022/01/10: British MP and former UN commander in Bosnia, Bob Stewart speaks during the rally. Bosnia and Herzegovina diaspora, and supporters of the country’s unity, gathered at Parliament Square in London to raise awareness of a potential new Bosnian crisis. After Bosnian Serbs blocked the work of the central government, fears have been re-sparked of a country-wide breakup in their biggest crisis since the 1990s war. (Photo by Thomas Krych/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
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A British lawmaker who once commanded UN peacekeepers in Bosnia was on Monday charged by police with two public order offences, including one that was “racially aggravated”.

Conservative MP Bob Stewart faces one charge of “using threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour and the offence was racially aggravated”, London’s Metropolitan Police said.

The 73-year-old lawmaker has also been charged with “using threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress”, it added.

“Both offences are alleged to have occurred on Wednesday, 14 December 2022 in Belgravia, London,” the Met noted, saying Stewart will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on 5 July.

The force said it had received an online report four days later from a man alleging he had been verbally racially abused, and that following an investigation prosecutors had authorised the charges.

It did not disclose further details about the incident.

The Guardian reported last year that Stewart was involved in a 14 December confrontation with a Bahraini human rights activist.

The newspaper posted video footage showing the Tory MP yelling at Sayed Alwadaei, the director of the Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, outside a reception hosted by the Bahraini embassy.

Alwadaei could be heard questioning Stewart about a trip paid for by the Bahraini government, asking the British lawmaker “how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

Stewart replied “get stuffed” and “Bahrain’s a great place” before adding “go away, I hate you” and “go back to Bahrain”, as well as telling Alwadaei “shut up, you stupid man” and “you’re taking money off my country”, the footage showed.

The Guardian said the activist had complained to the Conservative party in the aftermath and that he was seeking legal advice about Stewart’s comments.

Alwadaei shared online newspaper reports of Stewart’s charge on social media and wrote: “This is a significant step towards accountability.

“I place my faith in the British justice system as the case moves forward.”

Stewart, who it is understood will remain a Tory MP during the case, apologised for his remarks last December, telling the Guardian he had been “persistently taunted”.

A former British Army officer who commanded United Nations peacekeeping forces in Bosnia during the Balkans conflict in the 1990s, he retired from the military in 1996 and became an MP in 2010.

Source: AFP