Tory Councillor: ‘I said guys not gays’
A Conservative Councillor has gone on trial for allegedly calling gay people paedophiles.
Peter Willows, a member of Brighton and Hove City Council for 12 years , is charged with Public Order Offences, after making the comments at a civil reception at Brighton Pavilion held in honour of the new Mayor.
Brighton Magistrates Court heard that he made the comments to the leader of the local Liberal Democrats Paul Elgood, a gay man himself and chair of the Council’s equality committee.
Mr Elgood told the court that he was insulted by Mr Willows’ comments and said he felt it was “malicious.”
Earlier at the function, Mr Elgood, was told by former Labour mayor Harry Steer, that Mr 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 Mr 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 Mr Willows, ‘Why are you saying all gay men are paedophiles?’
Mr Ledward said Mr Willows replied ‘they are.’
He then asked Mr Willows, ‘You know Paul is gay, do you think he is a paedophile?’
Mr Ledward told the court that Mr Willows replied, ‘I know he’s not, but all other gay men are.’
Cllr 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 Mr 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 Cllr Willows to his police statement in which he stated “gays, not guys.”
Mr Willows was unrepentant and insisted he had said ‘guys’.
At this point the court was adjourned after the magistrates requested that they listen to the recording of the police interview with Mr Willows while he was under caution.
The trial continues.