Glasgow & West Scotland

Man sentenced over racist emails to Labour MSP Anas Sarwar

Alexander Agnew Image copyright Spindrift
Image caption Alexander Agnew threatened to set fire to Mr Sarwar's office

A man who sent racist and threatening emails to Labour MSP Anas Sarwar has been ordered to carry out 120 hours of unpaid work.

Alexander Agnew, 53, sent eight emails which included videos from the right-wing terrorist group Nation Action.

One told Mr Sarwar he was no longer welcome or needed "in a white nation".

Another said: "Scotland shall never accept a brown skinned heretic as anything but a rapist culture and a sin against god."

Sheriff Lindsay Wood ordered Agnew to carry out community service and banned him from leaving his home between 21:00 and 06:30 for the next eight months.

Image caption Mr Sarwar believed he had been targeted because of his campaign against racial hatred

Glasgow Sheriff Court had heard Agnew's emails left Mr Sarwar fearing for his safety and that of his family.

Prosecutor Lucy Adams had told the court Glasgow MSP Mr Sarwar believed he had been targeted "because of his race and his campaign against racial hatred".

The first email, sent on 5 February 2018, read: "If a cat is born in a stable, does it make it a horse?"

Agnew's next hate message 10 days later stated: "Not one step back, we are everywhere."

Another read: "Keep a close eye on your offices" with an emoji of a fire beside the text.

'Keep fighting'

Police seized the emails and sent them to the force's cyber-crime unit.

The investigation found the emails all matched up with Agnew's mobile phone number and his partner's address in Penilee, Glasgow.

Following Agnew's sentencing, Mr Sarwar said his high-profile stance against racism had seen him repeatedly subjected to threats and racist abuse.

He added: "While it has been a very difficult time for me and my family, it has strengthened my resolve to keep fighting for those who aren't as fortunate as I am to have a voice.

"I want to thank the police and courts for their action in this case and hope it encourages victims across Scotland to report instances of anti-Muslim hatred.

"I am pleased to have launched the first ever public inquiry into Islamophobia in Scotland, and this case demonstrates why it is important to understand both the scale of the challenge and the work needed to find solutions."

Institutionalised racism

Earlier this year, a pensioner from Dumfries who sent abusive emails to Mr Sarwar was fined £400.

In one of the messages, Donald Brown, 72, told the politician to "go back to Pakistan because you're probably happier amongst your own kind".

The messages were sent in 2018, after Mr Sarwar claimed a Scottish Labour councillor told him "Scotland wouldn't vote for a brown Muslim Paki".

Mr Sarwar then launched a cross-party group on Islamophobia at Holyrood, with the aim of rooting out institutionalised racism in Scotland.