Tory convicted of gay paedophile slur to appeal

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A Conservative councillor found guilty of public order offences after making homophobic comments is to appeal his conviction.

Peter Willows was a member of Brighton and Hove City Council with 12 years service when he was sentenced to a one-year conditional discharge at Brighton Magistrates Court in December 2006.

Magistrates were “satisfied beyond reasonable doubt” that he had made intentionally offensive remarks.

Willows,76, was at Lewes Crown Court today and the date for his appeal before a judge in the Crown Court will be heard on February 22nd.

After his conviction last year he resigned from his post as Councillor for Hangleton and Knoll Ward in Brighton.

On May 18 2006, Peter Willows had been present at a civil reception at Brighton Pavilion, hosted by the mayor of Brighton and Hove.

At the event, Councillor Paul Elgood was told by former Labour mayor Harry Steer that Willows had been making offensive comments about gay people.

James Ledward, publisher of Brighton magazine G-Scene, was with Mr Elgood at the function.

The pair approached Willows towards the end of the function to ask him why he had said that all gay people are paedophiles.

Mr Ledward told the court that Paul Elgood asked Willows, “Why are you saying all gay men are paedophiles?”

Mr Ledward said Willows replied “they are.”

He then asked Willows, “You know Paul is gay, do you think he is a paedophile?”

Mr Ledward told the court that Willows replied, “I know he’s not, it’s all the other gays.”

Many prominent members of the gay community and gay media were at the function, including the leader of the local Liberal Democrats Paul Elgood, and chair of the Council’s equality committee.

Mr Elgood told the court that he was insulted by Willows’ comments and said he felt it was “malicious.”

At his trail in December 2006 Willows’ defence barrister Irena Ray-Crosby appealed to the magistrates, asking them to take into account Willows’ excellent character and lack of any previous convictions.

Magistrate Pauline Quinton, after just under an hour of deliberation with her team, found Willows guilty.

He was ordered to pay £250 costs, which was immediately settled by a handful of friends and supporters who were present in court.