Claudia Webbe: Harassment trial adjourned after barrister falls ill

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe at Westminster Magistrate's Court

MP Claudia Webbe at Westminster Magistrates' Court - Credit: PA

A serving MP accused of harassment has had her trial adjourned after her barrister fell ill.

Claudia Webbe, who was elected Labour MP for Leicester East in December 2019, was due to stand trial today on a single charge of harassment, which she denies.

It is alleged the 56-year-old pursued a course of conduct which amounted to the harassment of a woman named Michelle Merritt between September 1, 2018 and April 26, 2020.

Ms Webbe, of Islington, is accused of threatening and making numerous unwarranted telephone calls to the woman.

Her solicitor Raj Chada told Westminster Magistrates' Court today that Ms Webbe's barrister was unable to attend the hearing, and asked for an adjournment.

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Mr Chada, who represented Ms Webbe, said the barrister had notified the defence team at 8.44am that he was "feeling unwell" and was going to "call an ambulance".

He told the court the message was the last communication they had with him, despite attempts to make contact since.

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Chief magistrate Paul Goldspring agreed to adjourn the trial, adding: "It is clear the interests of justice are only met by granting an adjournment."

Ms Webbe, who was granted unconditional bail, is now due to stand trial at the same court on September 27.

It is due to last one day.

Ms Webbe entered the Commons in the December 2019 general election, winning the seat formerly held by Keith Vaz, the Labour veteran who retired from Parliament in the wake of a scandal.

She has been a councillor in Islington since 2010. 

She has also been a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee, and earlier in her career a political adviser to then-London mayor Ken Livingstone.

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