A ‘good neighbour’ told a city council call handler they were a ‘Spanish p****’ then refused to attend a meeting to discuss his sweary phone manner – unless they paid him £20k.

Oxford Magistrates’ Court heard Jonathan Clarke, 42, had taken it upon himself to try and help a neighbour who told him about ‘another set of neighbours who had been causing people nuisance, anti-social behaviour, obstruction and even racism’.

His efforts to get the council, police and other authorities to take notice of the problem had come to nought, his solicitor told the court.

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On July 21 last year, he called up Oxford City Council’s contact centre asking to speak to someone about the issue with his neighbours. He was told there was no one there that he could speak and it was suggested he could send an email.

In reply, Clarke told the call-handler: “You’re a Spanish p****.” He sang down the phone, to an unspecified tune: “La, la, la, I’m a foreign p****.”


The council identified him from his mobile phone number and sent him a letter inviting him to a meeting to discuss the abusive comments.

He refused to attend the meeting unless they paid him £20,000.

Fining him £120 and ordering he pay £75 in compensation, chairman of the bench Helen Robins told the defendant: “No public official should be abused in that way.

“But we have decided we are going to deal with this by way of a fine, rather than a community order.”

She added: “We are trusting this is a one-off and we will not be seeing you in court again.”

Clarke, of Cumberland Road, Oxford, pleaded guilty at an earlier hearing to making a ‘grossly offensive’ telephone call.

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Earlier, defence solicitor Mavalynne Lewis said her client was ‘ashamed’ of what he had done.

“He really feels for him [his victim] because he’s had a lot of chance to think abut how that would make him feel,” she said, adding that Clarke was ‘understandably very scared’ of the possibility of being sent to prison.

He would generally ‘never speak to someone like this’, she said. “This is not like him.”

At the time the offence was committed, he was said to have been under a significant amount of stress. His father was suffering from a number of medical conditions and had moved down to Bournemouth.

Clarke, who had not been in trouble since 2010, was currently unemployed although had been offered three days’ work a week looking after a friend’s elderly mother.

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This story was written by Tom Seaward. He joined the team in 2021 as Oxfordshire's court and crime reporter.  

To get in touch with him email: Tom.Seaward@newsquest.co.uk

Follow him on Twitter: @t_seaward