11 Nov 2010

Tory arrested over Twitter stoning post

A Conservative councillor has been arrested and bailed over a message he posted on Twitter calling for newspaper journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned to death.

Gareth Compton, Conservative councillor for Erdington, Birmingham, was arrested last night and later released on bail following the remark he allegedly posted on his private Twitter account.

The post on Mr Compton’s profile, which appears to have since been removed, read: “Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan’t tell Amnesty if you don’t. It would be a blessing, really.”

Later in messages posted on the site he apologised saying: “I did not ‘call’ for the stoning of anybody.

I do not accept his apology..stoning a woman can never be a joke. Yasmin Alibhai-Brown

“I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 Live…that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran.

“I apologise for any offence caused. It was wholly unintentional.”

‘Extremely upset’

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown told Channel 4 News she was extremely upset by the comments: “I do not accept his apology. If he says it’s a joke, stoning a woman can never be a joke.

“I don’t think a flippant little apology can wipe off what he did.

“He’s a public servant…he sets standards on what should and should not be said. There are people who genuinely want me dead. He validates them and that can’t be right.”

Tory arrested over Twitter stoning post


A Conservative Party spokesman said the councillor had been suspended from the party pending further investigation by the police.

“Language of this sort is not acceptable and as a result Gareth Compton’s membership of the Conservative Party has been indefinitely suspended pending further investigation,” a spokesman said.

Mr Compton’s comments were raised in Parliament today, when the Commons leader, Sir George Young, was urged to grant a debate on the punishment of stoning in Iran by Labour’s Steve McCabe (Birmingham, Selly Oak).

He added: “And can we use that debate to hear your response to Birmingham Conservative councillor Gareth Compton’s call for the stoning to death of the journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown?

“Will this disgraceful behaviour be tolerated?”

Sir George said: “Stoning to death is a barbarous form of punishment which the Government, and I am sure every honourable Member of this House, deplores.

“I hope that no elected person will threaten any member of our society with that sort of punishment.”

‘Offensive message’

West Midlands Police confirmed that Mr Compton had been arrested and bailed pending further inquiries.

“We can confirm a 38-year-old man from Harborne has been arrested for an offence under section 127 (1a) of the Communications Act of 2003 on suspicion of sending an offensive or indecent message,” a spokesperson said.