Beds, Herts & Bucks

Luton man who threw egg at Baroness Warsi jailed

A man who threw an egg at the face of a Conservative peer on a visit to Luton has been jailed for six weeks.

Baroness Warsi, now Conservative Party chairwoman, was targeted during the visit on 30 November 2009.

Gavin Reid, 23, of Green Close, Luton, had denied a charge under the Public Order Act of intentionally causing harassment, alarm or distress.

But City of Westminster magistrates' found him guilty and sentenced him to six weeks' imprisonment.

'Clearly disorderly behaviour'

The prosecution previously alleged Baroness Warsi, who is from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire, was ridiculed by a group of Muslim men.

The then Shadow Minister for Community Cohesion and Social action had been accompanying Nigel Huddleston, the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Luton South, and business representatives on a tour of the Bury Park area.

The prosecution told the court two or three eggs were thrown at the Baroness, one of which broke on her face.

Magistrate Elizabeth Roscoe said: "Throwing eggs goes beyond legitimate political protest and is quite clearly disorderly behaviour and it is also threatening, abusive and insulting behaviour."

'No shrinking violet'

James Walker, representing Reid, told the court to be found guilty of the offence, prosecutors had to prove Reid's actions had caused "harassment, alarm or distress".

Baroness Warsi, who did not give evidence in the trial, was earlier described as "no shrinking violet" after the court was told she said to the protesters: "I am not fazed. I am a criminal solicitor from Yorkshire."

Ms Roscoe said politicians tend to be "reasonably robust".

"There has been no evidence to make me sufficiently sure that she (Baroness Warsi) felt any harassment, alarm or distress."

The district judge added that in the wider context of the incident she felt Reid's actions did meet the criteria.

Ms Roscoe said Janghar Khan, a Conservative member who accompanied Baroness Warsi on the visit, was affected.

Reid had already served the sentence during his time on remand since May.

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