Politician Bob Stewart has had his conviction for a racially aggravated public order offence quashed at Southwark Crown Court.

Mr Stewart, MP for Beckenham in south-east London, told Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei to “go back to Bahrain” during a row outside the Foreign Office’s Lancaster House in Westminster on December 14 last year.

Mr Stewart, who was a Conservative at the time, was convicted last November for a racially aggravated public order offence in relation to the incident.

However, his conviction was overturned on Friday following an appeal.

Bob Stewart court case
Sayed Ahmed Alwadaei shouted ‘Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?’ outside Lancaster House (James Manning/PA)

Mr Justice Bennathan said that, while the words spoken by Mr Stewart amounted to abuse, the bench did not believe that it caused Mr Alwadaei harassment, alarm, or distress.

Mr Stewart, 74, had been attending an event hosted by the Bahraini embassy when protester Mr Alwadaei shouted “Bob Stewart, for how much did you sell yourself to the Bahraini regime?”

During a heated exchange, Mr Stewart replied: “Go away, I hate you. You make a lot of fuss. Go back to Bahrain.”

He also told Mr Alwadaei to “get stuffed, Bahrain’s a great place, end of”.

In footage played during his appeal, he added: “Now you shut up, you stupid man.”

The court heard that Mr Alwadaei came to the UK from Bahrain as a refugee.

He said that he was tortured for attending a protest against the Bahraini regime, and this led him to flee.

Mr Alwadaei said he wanted to question Mr Stewart about his support for Bahrain.

“Those that would affiliate themselves with a regime that is so corrupt, they should be questioned for their affiliation,” he said.

Lt Colonel Bob Stewart
Mr Stewart is a former British Army officer who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969

Asked about Mr Stewart’s reply, that he “go back” to Bahrain, he said he felt “dehumanised” by the remarks.“

To me the context was very clear, that I am not wanted, that I am not welcome in Britain,” he said.

However, during cross-examination Mr Alwadaei said that he could not hear what Mr Stewart was saying to him.

“At the time I could not hear what he was saying,” he said.

Asked to clarify what exactly he did hear, he said he heard “go back”.

He said he then watched the video back after the incident, and that he then reported the incident to the police.

Summing up the bench’s decision to overturn the conviction, Mr Justice Bennathan said that Mr Alwadaei’s response during the incident did not suggest that he had been caused distress.

“The fact that even after Mr Stewart’s abusive comment, Mr Alwadaei continued to address him in similar terms, and at a similar pitch, would scarcely suggest to an observer that he was caused any upset, alarm, or distress,” he said.

Mr Stewart remained stoic following the judgment, simply nodding his head.

He then hugged and thanked his supporters, who had packed out the public gallery of the court.

Mr Stewart is a former British Army officer who was stationed in Bahrain in 1969 and has described himself as a “friend” of the Middle Eastern country.

During his evidence on Friday, he denied that his comments were racist.

Instead he claimed that he simply meant to tell Mr Alwadaei that he could protest safely if he were to return to Bahrain.

“(I said) go back to Bahrain because I know it to be a very decent place and I thought you would get a decent hearing there,” he said.

He said he was “upset” by Mr Alwadaei’s remarks as they were “audible” to everyone in the queue to the event.

He said he felt the remarks meant “that I was a corrupt man and that I had accepted money from Bahrain”.

He added: “I had not. I was upset by this.”

He added that when he said “I hate you” he meant “I hate what you are saying”.

He was asked if he was racist.

“I don’t think so, it is the last thing I am,” he said.