The newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has said she will report a Conservative councillor to the police
after he posted a message on Twitter saying it would be a blessing if she was stoned to death.
Birmingham councillor Gareth Compton called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show.
Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he tweeted from his iPhone.
Alibhai-Brown ludicrously claimed that she regarded his comments as incitement to murder. The journalist, who writes columns for the Evening Standard and the Independent, told the Guardian: It's really upsetting. My teenage daughter is really
upset too. It's really scared us. You just don't do this. I have a lot of threats on my life. It's incitement. I'm going to the police – I want them to know that a law's been broken.
She added that she regarded Compton's remarks as racially motivated because he mentioned stoning.
The councillor claimed she had said, with reference to David Cameron's trip to China, that no politician was morally qualified to speak out about human rights abuses, including the stoning of women, bar the likes of Nelson Mandela.
Compton, who later apologised on Twitter, added: Twitter is a forum for glib comment of the moment. It was a glib comment. Who could possibly think it was serious? Obviously I apologise. No offence was intended.
Update: Throwing Stones at Gareth Compton
12th November 2010. Based on article
A Conservative Birmingham City councillor has been arrested over ludicrous allegations that he called on
Twitter for Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to be stoned to death.
Erdington councillor Gareth Compton made the remark about the newspaper columnist on his Twitter page. He called it a glib comment in reaction to the writer's appearance on Nicky Campbell's Radio 5 Live breakfast show. Can someone
please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really, he flippantly tweeted from his iPhone.
Police said he had been arrested under the Communications Act 2003 and bailed.
He has since apologised.
Alibhai-Brown said she found his attitude loathsome and that a flippant apology was not enough.
The Conservative Party has said his membership has been suspended indefinitely pending further investigation.
Roger McKenzie, Unison's West Midlands regional secretary, said he had been inundated with complaints from city council workers outraged at Compton's comments and he called on Compton to resign from the council. He said: Birmingham is a
multicultural city and the council's workforce reflect this. It is clear that Councillor Compton is out-of-touch with both his city and the council staff. It is wholly unacceptable for a public official to make such racist comments. Councillor
Compton must resign his seat immediately.
Update: Radio 5 Live
15th November 2010. Based on article
by Evan Harris
As the Telegraph reports the controversial tweet included the hashtag #R5L at the end. This would alert those who
see the tweet to the fact he is responding to something he had just heard on Radio 5 Live. In other words, it provides important context.
Alibhai-Brown had, on the 5 Live programme, been arguing, in the context of David Cameron's China visit, that no western politician who supported the war in Iraq had neither the moral authority to lecture China about human rights nor lecture
Iran about stoning.
Compton clearly thought this was a ridiculous point and expressed that view aggressively via his tweet:
Can someone please stone Yasmin Alibhai-Brown to death? I shan't tell Amnesty if you don't. It would be a blessing, really.
Update: Moralising about easy offence
16th November 2010. Based on
The easily offended newspaper columnist who threatened to call the police after a Birmingham councillor joked
that she should be stoned to death has announced that she does not want him to face charges.
Newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown said: My objections have been made and there is no need for more . She said she had decided not to press charges against Birmingham Councillor Gareth Compton (Lab Erdington), who made the comment
using internet messaging service Twitter last week.
Writing in The Independent, she said: Some crazed demons on Twitter believe anything goes. Written words matter and hold meanings beyond that narcissistic urge to send off instant thoughts. The Tory councillor who sent out a vile and scary
message about me says it was a joke. After some thought I decided I will not press charges. My objections have been made and there is no need for more.
But she said she was disturbed by some of the comments made about the incident, and her response, in blogs and on Twitter: Yet having read many blogs and tweets that followed the incident, I do wonder whether our manners and morals will
survive and if English itself, the best thing about us, is now seriously endangered.
Of course the Crown Prosecution Service may yet decide to press charges themselves.
Update: Prosecution Continues
17th November 2010. Based on article
Police are continuing an investigation into allegations that a Birmingham councillor called for a newspaper
columnist to be stoned to death, despite the journalist announcing she did not want him to face charges.
West Midlands Police said it would be up to officers and the Crown Prosecution Service to decide whether to charge Coun Gareth Compton (Con Erdington) who made the comment using internet messaging service Twitter last week.