Tuesday 26 September 2017

Viscount jailed for 12 weeks after offering money on Facebook for someone to kill Brexit campaigner

Rhodri Philipps Credit: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire
Rhodri Philipps Credit: David Mirzoeff/PA Wire

Helen William

A viscount has been jailed for 12 weeks after offering money on Facebook for someone to kill Brexit campaigner Gina Miller.

Rhodri Philipps, the 4th Viscount St Davids, had posted online: "£5,000 for the first person to 'accidentally' run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant."

The 50-year-old wrote the comment just four days after Ms Miller won a landmark High Court challenge against the Government last year.

Philipps, of Knightsbridge, central London, described her as a "boat jumper", and added: "If this is what we should expect from immigrants, send them back to their stinking jungles."

Gina Miller Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire
Gina Miller Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

He was convicted at London's Westminster Magistrates' Court of two counts of sending menacing messages on a public electronic communications network.

The other post Philipps was convicted for was in response to a news article about an immigrant and his children.

A five-year restraining order was also placed against Philipps in order to "protect " Ms Miller, along with Arnold Sube, the immigrant he abused online, and Matthew Steeples, who informed Ms Miller about the racist material.

Senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot ordered the recently bankrupt Philipps to pay £500 compensation, noting that he is of limited means. She gave him six months to pay up and warned she would send the bailiffs to his home if he did not comply. A £115 surcharge was imposed and Philipps was ordered to pay costs of £250.

The judge told Philipps that he had "tried and failed to justify the racist abuse" by saying that Ms Miller plus Mr Sube and his family deserved the language because they were immigrants.

The judge told him: "You told me proudly in evidence that your family motto is Love of Country and that is your motivation, but it seems to me on the evidence I have seen that you are not motivated by love of country, but by your hatred of anybody who has different views to yours and to any who have recently arrived in this country.

"You show this hatred by publicly directing abusive threats at others, which is a criminal offence in this multi-racial society we are lucky enough to live in."

The judge noted that it was since his conviction two days ago, when he was warned that he might go to prison for the menacing posts, that Philipps expressed sincere remorse for his behaviour.

She said: "You have had an epiphany in the last two days. You now recognise how offensive your language was and recognise the racially aggravated nature of the first post.

"This is a sudden conversion after many months when you have expressed racist views.

"You accept now your posts were a self-indulgent release of anger. I accept you have an alcohol dependency. At the time, you believed your behaviour was an example of freedom of speech."

Philipps, who represented himself at the trial, had argued that he had uploaded the material in anger, had only intended to send it to his friends and that he did not mean to publish it widely or to cause offence.

The judge said: "You had plenty of time in which to remove them but they remained before you finally deleted them when you realised that they may get you into trouble."

Ms Miller, 52, said she found his comments "genuinely shocking" and she felt "violated".

She added in a statement that she was "very scared for the safety of herself and her family".

Prosecutor Philip Stott said at an earlier hearing: "In addition to finding it offensive, racist and hateful, she was extremely concerned that someone would threaten to have her run over for a bounty.

"She took the threat seriously and it contributed to her employing professional security for her protection."

The Guyana-born mother-of-three was subjected to a torrent of abuse and threats after spearheading the legal challenge which forced Theresa May to consult Parliament before beginning the formal process of leaving the EU.

In the other post Philipps wrote: "I will open the bidding. £2,000 in cash for the first person to carve Arnold Sube into pieces. Piece of s**t."

Claiming that he was now completely remorseful Philipps, dressed in a pink open-necked shirt and green tweed trousers after having slipped off his green gilet, stood in the dock and personally addressed the judge on why he had had such a dramatic change of heart about his actions.

Philipps told the judge that when she had used the word "ashamed" about him when he was convicted, it had "actually struck a chord".

He said he had "passionately" believed his defence and did not feel he had done anything wrong but was "being censured in a tone I respected".

He described his comments as "self-indulgent expletives of anger which I could not contain at the time, for which I apologise".

He said: "They were deeply un-Christian in that respect and for whoever I have caused upset to I hope they will accept my sincerest apologies.

"I stand before the court and accept your sentence without reservation my lady."

Philipps, also known as Lord St Davids, had previously told the court: "My own mother is an immigrant from the very same continent (as Ms Miller)."

Philipps, who represented himself at his trial, admitted during his evidence that he was "incandescent" after Ms Miller's legal challenge.

"She's left a Third World country to come to Britain. It's not for first generation immigrants to behave the way Gina Miller did," he added.

After sentencing, Kate Mulholland, London Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer, said: "The menacing comment by Philipps about Gina Miller was clearly racially motivated and as a result he has received a longer sentence today to reflect the hate crime element."

Without the uplift, his prison sentence would have been eight weeks, the CPS said.

Press Association

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