Man convicted after goading Manchester Jewish community with offensive t-shirt
A man who wore a t-shirt with offensive wording relating to the conflict in the Middle East while visiting an area with a large Jewish community has pleaded guilty to committing an antisemitic hate crime.
At 11.30am on Monday 9 October Robert Hughes, 69, from Whitefield, Bury, was seen by numerous members of the Jewish community walking along Kings Road in Prestwich, entering shops and speaking to people whilst wearing the offensive bright blue t-shirt.
Several witnesses contacted the police to report the incident. A Greater Manchester Police PCSO and a Community Security Trust (CST) officer approached Hughes in the street and persuaded him to cover the t-shirt with a coat.
In police interview Hughes admitted he had deliberately worn the t-shirt to provoke a reaction from the Jewish community but denied any intention to cause distress and claimed his actions were an expression of his freedom of speech.
Today he pleaded guilty at Bolton magistrates' court to three racially/religiously aggravated public order offences and was sentenced to 12 weeks' imprisonment, which the court uplifted from eight weeks for racial aggravation.
Matthew Siddall, a Senior Crown Prosecutor at CPS North West, said: "Robert Hughes targeted an area in north Manchester, where he does not live and which is a predominantly Jewish area, in order to provoke a reaction with the t-shirt he was wearing.
"He caused upset and distress to all those he came across that day with the offensive words he displayed on his clothing.
"While individuals have a right to freedom of expression, we won't hesitate to prosecute those who deliberately undermine public order by demonstrating hostility to anyone's race or religion."
Notes to editors
- Prestwich in north Manchester is part of the UK's second largest Jewish community outside London.
- When people break the law we prosecute swiftly and independently. Since recent protests began, the CPS have prosecuted a string of offences related to events in the Middle East – including hate crime offences, public order offences, and terror offences.
- The CPS are working closely with community leaders in the Jewish and Muslim communities - with organisations like the Community Security Trust and Tell MAMA - to make sure our approach commands public confidence.
- Community Security Trust (CST) is a charity that protects British Jews from antisemitism and related threats.