Who’s a coconut?

Posted: January 14, 2010 in Law & Disorder

This woman called that woman a “coconut”



Now the taxpayer has to pay for a court case brought about by a police charge of racially aggravated harassment!


A Bristol councillor who called an Asian colleague a coconut during a debate is facing a charge of racially aggravated harassment.

Shirley Brown has been summonsed to appear at Bristol Magistrates’ Court next month to answer the allegation.

If convicted of the public order offence, she could potentially receive a prison sentence or a fine.

The charge stems from a Bristol City Council meeting held on February 24 last year.
Liberal Democrat Mrs Brown referred to Conservative colleague Jay Jethwa as a “coconut” during a debate on the authority’s budget.

It is alleged that the term “coconut” is a racial slur that can be used to describe someone who belongs to an ethnic minority group but promotes the interests of white people.

Mrs Jethwa, who represents Stockwood, is Asian while Mrs Brown, who represents Ashley, is black.

At the meeting, Mrs Brown said: “In our culture we have a word for you, a word which many in our city would understand, and that’s coconut.

“At the end of the day I look at you as that.”

Mrs Brown made the comment after Mrs Jethwa backed an unsuccessful Tory proposal to cease funding for the Legacy Commission, an organisation set up to support ethnic minorities in Bristol.

Mrs Brown has apologised to Mrs Jethwa for any offence the comment caused.

She later denied the comment was racist, telling a council panel she was referring to Mrs Jethwa being “in denial of her roots” and saying that she went on to refer to “coconut water that could be used or thrown away”. She said she accepted it was a “clumsy use of words”.

Avon and Somerset Police began investigating the alleged offence in March.

Bristol City Council launched its own investigation following complaints about the comment.

Although an officer’s report recommended no further action was taken, in July the council’s standards committee suspended Mrs Brown for a month, rebuked and censured her for “bringing the council into disrepute”.

This decision was then overturned on appeal by the Adjudication Panel for England Tribunal Service in September.

Mrs Brown has not been suspended as a result of the charge and is able to continue her council duties pending the outcome of the hearing.

City council spokesman Peter Wood said: “We are not taking any further action at the moment in the light of court proceedings.

“If the prosecution resulted in a conviction for a criminal offence we would review the situation.”

The maximum penalty a magistrate can hand down after a conviction for racially aggravated harassment is six months in prison or a £5,000 fine, while cases heard at Crown Court carry a maximum sentence of two years in jail.

  1. How absurd,surely the police must have better things to do!

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