Racist tenant asked for move to white area of the Borders
A SELF-CONFESSED racist telephoned his landlords and demanded to be re-housed after being told an immigrant was moving into a neighbouring property, a court has been told.
Gilbert Robbins had moved into the Borders village of Ettrickbridge last year after being informed no foreigners lived there.
But after being told there were plans for a Libyan refugee to be moved into a house next to him, the 63-year-old tenant hit the roof and telephoned Selkirk-based Eildon Housing Association asking they find another property for him.
During the conversation he admitted he was racist and had extreme right wing views and allegedly said that all foreigners should be lined up and shot.
The housing assistant at the other end of the line told Robbins it was a “disgusting thing to say” and terminated the phone call.
However Robbins followed this up with two emails regarding his “home move” and “re-housing request” to his female housing officer, who is originally from Sudan, which were littered with racial comments.
Following a trial at Selkirk Sheriff Court Robbins was found guilty of a breach of the Communications Act by sending emails and telephone messages to three employees of Eildon Housing on April 10 that were racist, offensive and abusive.
Sheriff Kevin Duffy deferred sentence for five months for good behaviour telling the plant operator he was being “given a chance” and he had to avoid repeating sending similar messages.
In the first email, sent to the housing officer of Sudanese-origin at 10.41am, Robbins wrote: “Dear Mrs. Now don’t take this personally.
“I live in Woodend, Ettrickbridge. Before I took this property, I specifically asked if there were any immigrants in the building or in the near vicinity. I was advised no!
“However, I’ve now been told by a neighbour, that the empty house, across the landing from me has been allocated to a black man.
“On the basis that I’m as extreme right wing and racist as you can get…to the point of actually HATING every foreigner in this country, I would like to be considered for a house in a white area as I couldn’t live near these people.
“Call me racist, that’s okay, I am.
“We have a government that’s ethnically cleansing our white, Christian country and I’m anti-that.
“The bottom line is I can’t live in the same building as foreigners, Islamists, blacks or even Eastern Europeans…..I HATE THEM ALL.”
Giving evidence during the trial the housing officer was so upset by the racial contents of the email that she left work and went home.
She added that later on the Libyan man was informed of Robbins’ views and declined to take up the tenancy in the picturesque village which has a population of around 100.
After the e-mail was sent a housing manager from Eildon telephoned Robbins to say what he had said in the telephone call and e-mail was unacceptable.
But Robbins, originally from the west coast of Scotland, hit back with another e-mail timed at 14.45 on the same day to the housing officer saying: “I was shocked and dismayed by the attitude of your staff, when I requested a move due to a foreigner moving under the same roof as me.
“Unfortunately I’m not multi-cultural and have nothing in common with foreigners.
“It’s like Harpie Eagles to live with Spider Monkeys.
“It just doesn’t work! Hence my request for a move.
“What does bother me is…. Eildon staff telling me I’m disgusting for my views and then be told Eildon’s concerned due to my views.
“Whatever happened to free speech?
“Is Eildon taking the stance that, if you don’t love immigrants, Islamists, Eastern Europeans, etc that in Eildon’s eyes you’re a concern?
“If you go back and listen to what I’ve said and look at what I’ve wrote…you will discover that contrary to my views on immigrants, I didn’t request that Eildon shouldn’t put a black man next to me, I requested `a move from the black man.
“Therefore…how can you have concerns about me?
“Political correctness gone too far.”
The messages were reported by Eildon Housing Association to the police and Robbins was interviewed at Hawick Police Station on April 13 he repeated his racist views but added he could not remember saying about all foreigners should be lined up and shot.
He commented: “If that was on the call that’s only my views concerning foreigners. I wasn’t wanting to upset anyone, it’s just my views.”
Summing up the Crown case procurator fiscal Graham Fraser said the messages were “wholly offensive” and “racially aggravated”.
Robbins, who acted for himself during the trial, put forward a defence submission under Article 10 of the European Court of Human Rights pointing out he could say what he likes as long as he was not pressuring someone or threatening them with violence.
But Sheriff Duffy said the language used in the telephone calls and message had gone “well beyond” what was acceptable and found him guilty of the charge.
The sheriff noted Robbins’ last criminal conviction dated back to 2013 so he deferred sentence until December to see if he could remain out of trouble.
He warned: “Be very careful what you are saying in e-mails and communications.”
Robbins said when he was working as a head of plant operator he would earn £750 to £1,000 a week but the court was told that he was currently £500 in arrears with his rent with Eildon and that he was in receipt of Universal Credit.