MP convicted of racial abuse to stand down at next election


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.

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