More than £4,000 has been raised for a Tory MP convicted of racist abuse.
Bob Stewart has surrendered the Conservative whip while he considers an appeal against his conviction for a racially aggravated public order offence, a government source has said.
The 74-year-old – a former British Army officer and United Nations commander in Bosnia – was found guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Friday of racially abusing an activist by telling him to “go back to Bahrain”.
By Sunday evening, a crowdfunding page set up by Brendan Clarke-Smith, the Conservative MP for Bassetlaw, had raised more than enough to cover Stewart’s fine plus legal costs.
Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring had fined Stewart £600, with additional legal costs bringing the total to £1,435.
Conservative Party deputy chairman Lee Anderson urged people to back the crowdfunding effort for the “war hero”.
Mr Anderson wrote a message of support on the fundraising page, urging his friend to “keep your chin up, old soldier”.
He also tweeted: “Col Bob Stewart. Is a friend and a war hero. I speak with Bob most days and share the odd tipple. After 4 years of being an MP I have got to know Bob really well.
“It’s obvious that Bob has seen things in battle that no other person would want to see. He has served his country and been decorated at the highest level for bravery.
“This man is now deemed a criminal in his 70s after a lifetime of public service. His legal bills are huge so please can you help?”
The fundraising page states it is “a disgrace to see a case such as this going to court, let alone for a decorated military hero” and “this is no way to treat our veterans”.
Stewart was convicted after the court heard he had become embroiled in a row with a protester outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster on 14 December last year.
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 a heated exchange, Stewart replied: “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!”
The MP told the court that he is “not a racist” and that it had been “extremely offensive” for the demonstrator to suggest he was “corrupt”.
Stewart, a former British Army officer who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969, said he is a “friend” of the Middle Eastern country.
Labour and the Liberal Democrats have led calls for Prime Minister Rishi Sunak to act against the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of Stewart.
Written by: Newsroom