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Man fined over email to SNP MP

24th Mar 2016
Man fined over email to SNP MP

James Learmonth, 68, emailed MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh (top), telling her to “Feel free to bomb the Muslim bs to oblivion.” (Creative Commons)

Nadine Osman

A Scottish man who urged his Muslim SNP MP to support air strikes in Syria has been fined £500 last month for couching his “grossly offensive terms”.

James Learmonth, 68, emailed Ochil and South Perthshire MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh on December 1 last year before a Commons vote on the issue.

He was lobbying the MP to vote in favour of military intervention. The email was not opened until December 18, well after the vote.

Addressed to Ahmed-Sheikh, 45, a practising Muslim, it read: “Dear Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh. Feel free to bomb the Muslim bs to oblivion.”

Prosecutor Gail Russell told Alloa Sheriff Court: “It wasn’t seen by Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh but the office worker who read it found its contents to be racist and offensive, and forwarded it to his senior manager.”

SNP officials reported the incident to the Metropolitan Police, and Learmonth, a retired staff nurse, was interviewed by police in Scotland.

Learmonth, of Donaldson Avenue, Alloa, pleaded guilty to sending an email that “contained grossly offensive remarks” from his home to Mrs Ahmed-Sheikh’s constituency office in the Clackmannanshire town.

Defence agent Toni Pentecost said Learmonth sent the email on a day that a British woman had lost her life in the conflict.

Pentecost said: “Mr Learmonth accepts he is free to express his political views and to ask his MP to vote in accordance with his wishes but the language he used on this occasion was unacceptable.

“He was very angry that the British lady had lost her life, and he was blinded by his anger and his frustration on the day he sent it.”

She said Learmonth “accepted with hindsight”that the email would be been offensive to someone receiving it.”

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