Councillor loses “coconut” racism appeal


A black councillor convicted of racial harassment after branding an Asian colleague a ”coconut” lost her appeal today.

Racial harassment councillor loses appeal

Liberal Democrat Shirley Brown, 49, used the derogatory remark against Conservative Jay Jethwa at a Bristol City Council debate in February 2009.

The term is used to describe someone who is betraying their roots because they are black on the outside but white on the inside.

Conservatives lodged a formal complaint and Cllr Brown was found guilty of racial harassment at Bristol Magistrates’ Court in June last year.

She was given a conditional discharge but launched an appealed against her conviction at Bristol Crown Court earlier this week.

She argued that the term was not racist and that she was referring to what Mrs Jethwa was proposing in the debate, rather than her race.

But Judge Mark Horton dismissed the appeal, endorsed the sentence and ordered Brown to pay £300 costs on top of the £620 costs ordered by magistrates last year.

Racial harassment councillor loses appeal

He said: ”The words and actions reflected not only a lack of self control but a lack of responsibility for her public duty as a councillor which carried with it both public duties and responsibilities in this open and multi-cultural society.

”Her strong feeling for her cause, which we accept may be wholly laudable, clouded and destroyed her proper judgement in a way in which caused her deliberately to use offensive words which would have done enormous damage to the very causes and ethnic minorities which she claims to support.”

Cllr Brown, who is Bristol City Council’s first black Lib Dem councillor, still serves the ward of Ashley but intends to stand down at the end of her current term.

After the case she said: ”I am saddened by the result. I maintain the word was not used racially, I would never describe myself as racist.”


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