MP convicted of threatening to throw acid warned appeal could lead to increased sentence

Islington councillor and Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe 

Islington councillor and Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe - Credit: PA

Disgraced MP Claudia Webbe has formally launched an appeal to overturn her harassment conviction – and was warned her sentence could yet be increased.

Webbe was convicted of harassment on October 13, after being found to have threatened to throw acid in the face of Michelle Merritt, a friend of her boyfriend Lester Thomas.

The 56-year-old, of Islington, was handed a10-week jail term - suspended for two years - at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on November 4.

Webbe signalled her intention to appeal both conviction and sentence during a 12-minute hearing at Southwark Crown Court this morning (November 9).

Judge Deborah Taylor told Webbe’s counsel, Raj Chada: “No doubt the appellant has been told sentences can go up as well as down.”

Mr Chada replied: “She (Webbe) has been advised.”

Prosecution counsel Tom Doble said victim Ms Merritt would likely be called to give evidence from behind a screen.

It was also indicated that Mr Thomas would potentially be called to give evidence in support of Webbe during those appeal proceedings.

The appeal is listed for March 9 2022, and could last up to three days.

Alongside the threat to throw acid, the court also heard that the MP threatened to leak naked images of Ms Merritt and made a string of phone calls in which she warned her to “get out of my relationship”.

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Webbe denied the allegation throughout and said she felt like a "victim" herself as a result of receiving a torrent of social media abuse.

As he passed sentence, chief magistrate Paul Goldspring said he found it “odd and concerning” that Webbe felt this way, describing her behaviour as "callous and intimidatory". 

Alongside the suspended jail term, Mr Goldspring handed Webbe 200 hours’ community service and ordered her to pay £3,128 in costs, compensation and surcharges.

Following conviction, the Labour party called for Webbe to resign as an MP.

She has been expelled by the Labour Party and sits in the Commons as an Independent.

Any recall petition, which would trigger a by-election if at least 10 per cent of her constituents in Leicester East support it, will have to wait until the outcome of her appeal.

Webbe, who was previously a councillor for Islington's Bunhill ward, was not required to be present in court for today's hearing.

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