London (AP) — A British lawmaker from the governing Conservative Party has been charged with racially abusing a Bahraini activist, London police said Monday.
Bob Stewart, 73, is alleged to have told Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei to “go back to Bahrain” following the altercation on Dec. 14 outside a historic Foreign Office building in the heart of the capital.
Stewart, who is currently chairman of the all-parliamentary group on Bahrain, is also alleged to have told Alwadaei, 36, to “get stuffed” and that he is “taking money off my country.”
The incident was caught on camera and was widely circulated across social media. Soon after the exchange became public, Stewart said he had made a mistake and that he had been goaded into a response.
London’s Metropolitan Police, which launched an investigation after Alwadaei made a complaint about the incident outside Lancaster House, charged Stewart with using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour or disorderly behavior and the offense was racially aggravated.”
With regard to the same incident, Stewart has also been charged with using “threatening or abusive words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.” Police said the additional count has been added in order “to allow the court discretion on the racial element of the allegation.”
Alwadaei has said he is living in exile after being tortured in the Gulf state following his participation in anti-government protests. He is the director of advocacy at the U.K.-based Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy, whose self-declared mission is “to promote human rights and effective accountability in Bahrain.”
Stewart, a former British army officer best known for his command of the U.N. peacekeeping forces in Bosnia during the early 1990s, will appear at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on July 5.