Sunak urged to expel MP guilty of racial abuse who told protester to ‘go back to Bahrain’

Rishi Sunak has been urged to remove the Tory whip from backbencher Bob Stewart after he was found guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats led calls for the prime minister to act against the “totally unacceptable” behaviour of the former Army officer, who told an activist to “go back to Bahrain”.

Stewart, 74, also told Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei “you’re taking money off my country – go away!”

The MP for Beckenham in southeast London, who told the court he was not a racist, had claimed his “honour was at stake” during a row between them at a rally in central London.

In the exchange on 14 December last year, Mr Alwadaei shouted: “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

During the row outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster, Stewart replied: “I didn’t. Now shut up, you stupid man.”

Footage played during a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court also showed that he said: “Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain.”

Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring found Stewart, who had denied the charge, guilty of a racially aggravated public order offence.

After giving his verdict, he fined the MP £600, with additional legal costs, bringing the total to £1,435.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “This is yet another serious Conservative scandal. This behaviour is totally unacceptable for a sitting MP. Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party need to immediately take action, and remove the Conservative whip.”

Lib Dem chief whip Wendy Chamberlain said: “It’s time Sunak finally acted with integrity. This should start with immediately removing the whip from Bob Stewart. Failing to remove the whip sends a dangerous message that behaviour like this is acceptable.

“Rishi Sunak has allowed his first year as prime minister to be dogged in sleaze and scandal; the very least he could do now is to finally crack down on it.”

Last year, The Independent revealed that Stewart, who has spoken in defence of the Bahraini regime in Parliament, has received at least £10,000 worth of hospitality and travel from the country’s rulers.

He has been paid to travel to the country on numerous occasions, with thousands of pounds spent on him each time.

The register of MPs’ interests shows that for the latest trip, the government of Bahrain provided him with flights worth £649.66, accommodation worth £428 and meals worth £167.90, all with a total value of £1,245.56.

In a speech in Bahrain, he said the country’s leadership had “done a very good job of changing the way it looks after its citizens” – before elections that were internationally condemned as a sham.

He also said: “I can say this now, as a British [citizen]: God save the King of England, and God save the King of Bahrain!”

Mr Alwadaei, director of the UK-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy and himself a political exile from the country, told The Independent last year he was devastated by Mr Stewart’s praise for the regime.

“As a Bahraini who was rendered stateless as a revenge tactic because I dared to protest the presence of Bahrain’s dictator who was visiting the UK, I cannot return to my country, simply because I took a stand for human rights,” he said.

“I’m devastated to see Bob Stewart going to Bahrain at the expense of the subjugated people of a corrupt dictatorship. Our people would not choose to finance an MP legitimising sham elections when opposition leaders languish behind bars.”

Since 2011 the Bahrainian government has banned several opposition parties. It has also tightened restrictions on freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, according to human rights groups.

Stewart is on the intelligence and security committee of Parliament, the national security strategy committee and the Northern Ireland committee.

The Conservative Party has been approached for comment.