Tory councillor guilty of homophobic slur
A Conservative Councillor has been found guilty of Public Order Offences after calling gay people paedophiles at a council reception.
Peter Willows, a member of Brighton and Hove City Council for 12 years, was charged with Public Order Offences, after making the comments at a civil reception at Brighton Pavilion held in honour of the new Mayor.
He has been given a conditional discharge and must pay £250 of court costs.
The incident happened at a reception hosted by the mayor of Brighton and Hove. Many prominent members of the gay community and gay media were at the function, including the leader of the local Liberal Democrats Paul Elgood, and chair of the Council’s equality committee.
Mr Elgood told the court that he was insulted by Willows’ comments and said he felt it was “malicious.”
Earlier at the function, Mr Elgood, was told by former Labour mayor Harry Steer, that Willows had been making offensive comments about gay people.
James Ledward, the publisher of Brighton magazine G-Scene, was with Mr Elgood at the function.
The pair approached Willows towards the end of the function to ask him why he had said that all gay people are paedophiles.
Mr Ledward told the court that Paul Elgood asked Willows, ‘Why are you saying all gay men are paedophiles?’
Mr Ledward said Willows replied ‘they are.’
He then asked Willows, ‘You know Paul is gay, do you think he is a paedophile?’
Mr Ledward told the court that Willows replied, ‘I know he’s not, but all other gay men are.’
Willows’ defence barrister, Irene Ray, challenged both witnesses saying this case was brought for political motivation as Mr Elgood is a Lib Dem councillor and James Ledwood is standing in council elections next year for the party.
Both men denied that it was for political reasons, and said it was purely that the comments were extremely offensive.
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Ms Ray also caused an adjournment when she asked the magistrates to consider whether there is a case to answer, they returned after five minutes saying there was.
When Willows took the stand, he admitted most of the conservation, but said he did not say ‘all other gays’ he said ‘other guys’
But prosecuting , David Packer, referred Willows to his police statement in which he stated “gays, not guys.”
Willows was unrepentant and insisted he had said ‘guys’.
Willows has been a long standing Tory councillor in the city.
The Conservative group on the City Council has suspended him from all committees pending the outcome of the case, and will now decide on his future.