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Tory councillor arrested over 'stoning to death' tweet

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A Tory councillor has been arrested and questioned following a comment on Twitter "calling" for the stoning of newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown.

Gareth Compton, 38, a conservative councillor from Erdington, Birmingham, was questioned by police for "sending an offensive or indecent message" contrary to the Communications Act of 2003, The Independent reports. He was released on police bail on Wednesday night.

Compton deleted the original tweet but a copy of the message has been captured for posterity here.

The arrest happened on the eve of the appeal of Twitter joke martyr Paul Chambers, who was convicted of similar offences over a remark on Twitter back in January "threatening" to blow Doncaster airport "sky high". The airport didn't take the remark as a threat to its operations, which were grounded at the time by a unseasonably heavy fall of snow, but still complained to the police, setting off a series of events that led to Chambers' conviction.

Many Twitter users as well as celebrities rallied together to support Chambers' appeal, and it's to their credit that many of them are also opposed to Compton's possible prosecution, even though many regard his remarks as offensive.

Compton defended his remarks as an arguably misguided attempt at humour. "I did not 'call' for the stoning of anybody," he said via his @garethfcompton Twitter account.

"I made an ill-conceived attempt at humour in response to Yasmin Alibhai-Brown saying on Radio 5 Live this morning, that no politician had the right to comment on human rights abuses, even the stoning of women in Iran.."

Conservative party officials have suspended Compton over the incident despite his later apology, Sky News reports. ®

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