A pensioner standing as an independent candidate in the Stoke byelection has been arrested on suspicion of stirring up racial hatred.
Barbara Fielding, 78, was quizzed by police after a complaint was reportedly made about her website, which calls for all immigrants to be repatriated and warns of a “seeping tide of Islamic warriors”, among other highly divisive policies.
Police seized Fielding’s mobile phone and computer and later released her on bail until next month, pending “further investigations”, a Staffordshire Police spokesperson confirmed.
The Stoke-on-Trent elections have been mired in controversy.
Ukip candidate Paul Nuttall failed to turn up as a hustling this week while embroiled in a crisis over misleading the public about losing ‘close, personal friends’ during the Hillsborough disaster.
Labour’s Gareth Snell was forced forced to apologise after posts were unearthed showing he had previously branded panellists on ITV’s Loose Women “squabbling sour-faced ladies”, described Janet Street-Porter as a “polished turd” and said a “speccy blonde girl” on BBC’s The Apprentice should “piss off”.
Fielding told the Guardian that she had been arrested on suspicion of publishing “racial hatred material”, but didn’t think she had “done anything wrong”.
“I’m not worried about this,” she told the newspaper, adding: “I’m giving information to anybody who wants to read it. I’m not saying people should go out and do something bad to immigrants.
“I set up my website 18 months ago. I wasn’t involved in politics before, but I just felt politicians had made a mess of things.”
Staffordshire police confirmed that a 78-year-old woman had been arrested under section 19 of the Public Order Act 1986, which makes it an offence to publish or distribute written material which may stir up racial hatred.
Both the Stoke and Copeland byelections, next Thursday, are seen as a key test for Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, as the constituencies have remained strongholds for the party.
Nuttall was a favourite to win the Stoke seat, but his chances have been sliding since the Hillsborough controversy came to light. Ladbrokes earlier this week gave Fielding 1,000/1 odds.