Skipper fined £2600 after death threat to MSP

Stewart Stevenson is MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast. Picture: TSPLStewart Stevenson is MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast. Picture: TSPL
Stewart Stevenson is MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast. Picture: TSPL
A fishing boat skipper who issued a chilling death threat against a politician and told him 'remember what happened to Jo Cox' has been fined £2,600.

William Curtis told SNP MSP Stewart Stevenson he was being persecuted in a row with a rival fishing firm with connections to MP Angus MacNeil and demanded prosecutors were brought in to examine the claims.

He told Mr Stevenson the firm was owned and controlled by the family of Mr MacNeil, the SNP MP for the Western Isles, and that he was closely involved with the running of the rival business.

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Curtis alleged the firm had employed Romanian seamen and grossly underpaid them while telling Mr Stevenson the treatment was “absolute slavery”.

Curtis then claimed the complaints against him were motivated because he was threatening to expose Mr MacNeil and his family.

He also told Mr Stevenson he was contemplating making a citizen’s arrest.

Curtis said Mr Stevenson had 14 days to act and added “Remember what happened to Jo Cox”, a reference to the Labour MP who four weeks before had been murdered while working close to her constituency office.

Mr Stevenson, the MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast, contacted the police and Curtis was arrested.

Curtis represented himself at a trial at Peterhead Sheriff Court and was found guilty of issuing a threat against Mr ­Stevenson at his constituents’ surgery in Aberchirder in August 2016. Passing sentence, Sheriff Robert H Dickson said: “Mr Stevenson was very concerned and frightened by your remark which he considered was directed against him and Mr McNeill.

“It was a threat that he and Mr McNeill could be physically attacked if your time limit was not complied with.

“This was not an outburst made in temper. It was a cold, calculated threat made in a calm tone and was all the more terrifying because of this. It was made deliberately in order to cause fear and alarm and it did so.

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“It was particularly effective because the tragic death of Jo Cox was at that time so fresh in everybody’s memory.

“Any form of death threat is a very serious matter. In this case you made it to a politician knowing that the reference to the murder of Jo Cox would be exceptionally alarming because she had been stabbed by a disgruntled constituent because of her political work.

“Speaking of the death of somebody who appears to have been a highly respected and hard working MP 
as a method of threatening other politicians was vile and evil.

“The courts have a duty to make it clear to you and others who try to frighten, terrify or alarm others that such behaviour will never be acceptable. Everybody is entitled in this country to live free of fear for their safety and for the safety of others.”

Mrs Cox was murdered in 2016 in her constituency of Batley and Spen in West Yorkshire by Thomas Mair.

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