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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 December 2006, 19:46 GMT
Gay remark councillor convicted
Peter Willows
Peter Willows' future as a councillor is being considered
A Brighton and Hove councillor has been found guilty of a public order offence over a remark that "equated gay people with paedophiles".

Brighton Magistrates' Court was told Peter Willows, 75, from Hove, East Sussex, was asked if he thought a gay councillor was a paedophile.

Prosecutor David Packer said he replied no, but added "it's the other gays".

Willows, a Conservative councillor for 12 years, was ordered to pay 250 costs and received a conditional discharge.

The incident took place at a mayor-making reception on 18 May.

Willows was asked by James Ledward, the editor of gay magazine Gscene, if he thought another gay man standing with them, Councillor Paul Elgood, was a paedophile.

"Willows replied to that with, 'I know you are not Paul, it's the other gays'," Mr Packer said on Tuesday.

Your remarks would inevitably be insulting
Chairwoman of the bench, Pauline Quinton

Willows told the magistrates' court during a day-long trial that he had "lots of colleagues who are gay. I treat them as normal, as they would wish to be treated".

He denied a charge of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour or disorderly behaviour, within the hearing or sight of a person likely to be caused harassment, alarm or distress.

But, finding him guilty, chairwoman of the bench Pauline Quinton said: "Because you knew that both men were gay... your remarks would inevitably be insulting."

Willows had been suspended from serving on Brighton and Hove City Council until the end of the trial, and the city's Conservative group said in a statement afterwards: "We will consult on the necessary action to be taken and the party will act swiftly.

"We do not share the views, as expressed, and disassociate ourselves from them."

Willows' barrister, Irena Ray-Crosby, said her client had made a "stupid mistake which he bitterly regrets".


SEE ALSO
Trial for 'gay remark' councillor
11 Aug 06 |  Southern Counties

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