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Bob Stewart: MP convicted of racial abuse to stand down at next general election | Politics News

An MP found guilty of racial abuse has announced he will stand down at the next election.

Bob Stewart, who has represented the London constituency of Beckenham since 2010, revealed his decision in a brief statement on X, formerly Twitter, which made no reference to the recent court case.

Following his conviction, the 74-year-old surrendered the Conservative whip while he considered a possible appeal.

He currently sits as an independent MP in the House of Commons.

Mr Stewart said in a post on the social media platform: “Serving Beckenham as its member of Parliament for 13 years has been an honour and privilege.

“I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has given me this opportunity.

“However, it is time for a new candidate, so I will not be seeking re-election at the next election.”

The geographical boundary of his Beckenham constituency is expected to be changed at the next general election following a review aimed at equalising population sizes across the seats at Westminster.

A new constituency of Beckenham and Penge has been proposed.

Earlier this month, Mr Stewart was found guilty at London’s Westminster Magistrates’ Court of racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.

The former army officer, who served as a United Nations commander in Bosnia, was fined £600, with additional legal costs bringing the total to £1,435.

Stewart was found guilty of racially abusing Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei
The MP was found guilty of racially abusing Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei

The court heard the MP had become involved in a confrontation with a protester outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster in December 2022.

He 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 an ensuing row, Mr Stewart said: “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.”

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While highlighting Mr Stewart’s “immense positive character”, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said: “I accept he is not racist per se, but that is not the case against him.

“Good men can do bad things.”

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

Referring to the charge, he said: “That’s absurd, it’s totally unfair, my life has been, I don’t want to say destroyed, but I am deeply hurt at having to appear in a court like this.”

Mr Stewart had argued his “honour was at stake in front of a large number of ambassadors”.

The military veteran, who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, said he is a “friend” of the Middle Eastern country.

A crowdfunding page set up by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, to cover Mr Stewart’s fine and any further legal costs has already raised more than £18,000.

Mr Stewart joins a growing list of Tory MPs who have announced they will not stand at the next general election, expected next year.

Tory MP Bob Stewart accused of ‘racial hostility’ in row with protester | Politics News

Tory MP Bob Stewart showed “racial hostility” towards a protester by telling him to “go back to Bahrain” during a demonstration outside a Foreign Office building, a court has been told.

The Metropolitan Police launched an investigation into the incident after a complaint was made by activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who has said he was living in exile after being tortured in the Gulf state.

The MP for Beckenham in south east London is also said to have told the protester on 14 December last year to “get stuffed”, that he was “taking money off my country” and “go away, I hate you”, after Mr Alwadaei shouted at him: “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

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Stewart is appearing at Westminster Magistrates Court facing a charge of a racially aggravated public order offence and another for using threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress – both of which he denies.

Footage played to the court room on Friday also showed the MP saying: “Now shut up, you stupid man.”

The former Army officer, who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, has described himself as a “friend” of the country.

His register of interests shows two trips paid for by the Bahraini government – one for a four-day visit to the state and another to visit an air show to meet a foreign minister – totalling more than £6,000.

During the one-day trial, Mr Alwadaei alleged that Bahrain was “corrupt” and a “human rights violator”, and said it was his right to protest against the MP’s involvement with the state.

Asked how he felt after the incident, the activist said: “I feel that I was dehumanised, like I was someone who is not welcomed in the UK.

“Because of my skin colour, because of where I came from, he feels I am taking money from his country.”

Activist Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei, who was allegedly racially abused by Beckenham MP Bob Stewart, outside Westminster Magistrates' Court, London. Mr Stewart is appearing at the court charged with a racially aggravated public order offence after an incident outside the Foreign Office's Lancaster House on December 14 last year. Picture date: Wednesday July 19, 2023.
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei claims he was racially abused by the MP

‘Racial hostility’

Mr Alwadaei also claimed that if he returned to Bahrain, he would “undoubtedly be killed and tortured”.

Prosecutor Paul Jarvis said Mr Stewart had “demonstrated racial hostility towards Mr Alwadaei by way of his comments”, and while he was “not motivated by racial hostility”, he had demonstrated it.

In response to the accusation, the MP said it was “absurd” and “totally unfair”, stating he was “not a racist”.

He added: “My life has been, I don’t want to say destroyed, but I am deeply hurt at having to appear in a court like this.”

The 74-year-old politician told the court he had “no idea” who Mr Alwadaei was when the incident occurred and that he used the word “hate” because of what the protester was saying.

Stewart continued: “‘Go back to Bahrain’ meant why don’t you go back to Bahrain and make your point there?”

‘Honour at stake’

Asked if he accused Mr Alwadaei of taking money from the UK, the MP said: “I made the assumption he too was living in this country and was benefiting from living in this country.

“I certainly didn’t mean he was a freeloader.”

But he defended his reaction to the protester, telling the court: “He was saying that I was corrupt and that I had taken money. My honour was at stake in front of a large number of ambassadors.

“It upset me and I thought it was extremely offensive.”

The case continues.

Sir Rod Stewart rents Berkshire home for Ukrainian family of seven who fled war | UK News

Sir Rod Stewart has revealed he has rented and furnished a home for a family of seven Ukrainian refugees after feeling heartbroken watching the war against Russia unfold on the news.

“Words couldn’t describe what we were watching,” Sir Rod told the Daily Mirror.

“The bombing of innocent children, the bombing of hospitals and ­playgrounds. Like everyone else, we were completely beside ourselves. I don’t wish that on anyone. This is evil, pure evil.”

Sir Rod is now providing support to Ukrainian couple Rostylsav and Olena and their five children aged between 17 and two, paying rent and bills for the Berkshire property for at least a year, according to the newspaper.

The family, who arrived in the UK without speaking any English, are “lovely… so polite” and “all very grateful”, Sir Rod said.

Rod Stewart performs at the Raise the Roof fundraiser for Prostate Cancer UK in June
Rod Stewart performs at the Raise the Roof fundraiser for Prostate Cancer UK in June

The star said he wanted to use his “power” as a knight to help others.

“I usually keep all my charitable efforts nice and quiet and just do it. But I thought, ‘I am a knight, I have been given this knighthood because of the things I’ve achieved in my life and the charity work I’ve done over the years’.

“But that was the past; I want to be seen to be doing something now. I am a knight, I should be using my power to do something for people.

“I am sure that if there are people out there who see what I am doing, they will pick up some slack too.”

The singer also hired three trucks filled with supplies for refugees and had them driven to Ukraine, before using the same vehicles to transport 16 people back to safety in Berlin.

He was later put in contact with Rostyslav and his family, as well as others who he has since given jobs to.

In a statement Olena and Rostyslav said: “Many thanks to Sir Rod Stewart, Warren Cady, his parents and their family for their openness and genuine and big hearts. Thanks to their sponsorship and Warren’s hard work, our children are now safe and able to learn normally in school.”

Sir Rod kicks off a string of UK arena dates next month, playing in Nottingham, Aberdeen, Glasgow, Belfast, London, Birmingham and Manchester.

He told The Mirror that he plans to address the conflict in Ukraine as part of the tour, dedicating shows to the country and its people.