Councillor in court over 'coconut' remark

A city councillor appeared in court today following a race row in which she allegedly called an Asian colleague a "coconut".

Shirley Brown, a black Liberal Democrat member of Bristol City Council, is charged with racially aggravated harassment towards Tory Jay Jethwa last year.

The slur has long been used to accuse someone of betraying their race or culture - the implication being that like a coconut, they are brown on the outside but white on the inside.

At Bristol Magistrates' Court today, Mrs Brown indicated that she would be pleading not guilty when the matter comes to trial, a court official said.

The case was adjourned to April 12.

Mrs Brown's comments were recorded live on webcam during a council debate last February.

Alongside the court proceedings, Mrs Brown also faced calls for her to stand down in the wake of the controversy.