Former BNP candidate for mayor of Liverpool guilty of racially abusing traffic warden in Wirral
A FORMER British National Party candidate for mayor of Liverpool was found guilty of racially abusing a traffic warden in Wirral.
Michael Whitby, 60, refused to take part in the hearing at Wirral Magistrates’ Court but was tried in his absence.
He was accused of verbally abusing civil enforcement officer Henry Ibe in November last year after the warden put a parking ticket on Whitby’s Vauxhall car – and later making threats against him.
There was a significant police presence in the Birkenhead building.
The court heard Whitby told the warden it was “outrageous” adding: “I should be allowed to park in my own country.”
Questioned by prosecutor Neil Evans Mr Ibe said Whitby had become “agitated” about the ticket and asked the traffic warden what country he was from, before following him and taking pictures with his mobile phone, later asking him if he spoke English.
Mr Ibe was working around Hamilton Square, in Birkenhead, at around 2pm on Tuesday, November 29 when he saw Whitby’s car with a pay and display ticket which expired at 1.58pm.
Mr Ibe told the court he logged the car and waited eight minutes until he issued the penalty notice, at which point Whitby arrived and pointed to a sign on his car which threatened anyone who “interfered” with the vehicle with a £10,000 fine.
Nigerian-born Mr Ibe said after Whitby became angry and asked him what country he was from, he asked the defendant “not to turn this into a racial comment”, before he and a female warden with him walked away, followed by Whitby.
The court also heard from police officer Michael Fox who said when the pair arrived at the station Mr Ibe was “clearly shaken”. He said: “It’s not normal for traffic wardens to into the front of the police station. Obviously something was wrong.”
Mr Fox said he then clearly heard Whitby shouting “can you speak English” and added: “It became apparent that was directed towards Mr Ibe.”
The judge was also shown CCTV from the police station and Mr Ibe said while the officer went to fetch a colleague Whitby said to him: “Your home is not safe, your car is not safe.”
The judge said he made repeated requests to Whitby to remain for the hearing but because of the defendant’s absence and his “no comment” during police interview he had “not been able to consider anything he may, or may not have said, about what took place”.
The judge said: “It was quite clear this was a racist incident.”
He said it was clear from the conversation Mr Ibe had with Whitby, as well as his evidence in court, that he could speak English and it was “menacing, threatening behaviour” by Whitby.
He found Whitby, of Hightown Road, Wrexham, in North Wales, guilty of racially aggravated threatening behaviour and a second charge of threatening behaviour.
He fined him £250 and ordered him to pay £100 compensation to Mr Ibe, prosecution costs of £300 and a £25 victim surcharge.
Dr Berlinda Webb of NSL, which carries out parking enforcement for Wirral council, said: “We very much welcome today’s conviction for racially aggravated harassment and use of threatening behaviour towards our colleague, Henry Ibe.
“The police involved were particularly helpful, and Henry was understandably relieved at the outcome.
“NSL will always push for the strongest action where abuse of our colleagues is concerned. Civil enforcement officers perform a vital function in our community and deserve to go about their work without fear of harm or aggravation.”