MP to be sentenced for harassment campaign that included acid attack threat

MP for Leicester East Claudia Webbe leaves Westminster Magistrates Court, London, where was charged with harassment

MP for Leicester East Claudia Webbe outside Westminster Magistrates Court in September - Credit: PA

Jealous MP Claudia Webbe is due to be sentenced today after threatening to throw acid at a friend of her boyfriend.

The Leicester East MP, 56, who lives in Islington, has been warned her she could face prison after her campaign of harassment against Michelle Merritt.

She also faces automatically losing her seat in the House of Commons if she is handed a jail term of a year or more, or a by-election if at least 10 per cent of her constituents sign a petition in the event of a smaller sentence.

The court heard Webbe harassed 59-year-old Ms Merritt, making a string of threatening phone calls between September 1, 2018 and April 26 last year.

In one, Webbe called Ms Merritt “a slag”, threatened her with acid and warned she would send naked pictures and videos to her daughters.

In another call, recorded by the complainant, Webbe repeatedly warned the victim to “get out of my relationship” with partner Lester Thomas.

Webbe - a councillor in Bunhill ward until May - denied harassment, claiming she only made “courtesy calls” to warn Ms Merritt not to breach coronavirus regulations by meeting Mr Thomas.

Most Read

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott were among those providing character witnesses for the defendant.

But finding her guilty last month, Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring said: “I do not find the defendant to be cogent, compelling and truthful in all aspects of her evidence.

“Some of the things she said I believe were made up on the spur of the moment.”

He added: “In short, I find Ms Webbe to be vague, incoherent and at times illogical and ultimately I find her to be untruthful.”

He released Webbe on unconditional bail.

Webbe entered the House of Commons in December 2019 after winning the seat formerly held by Labour veteran Keith Vaz.

She was suspended by the party after being charged.

Harassment putting a victim in fear of violence can carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years, or 14 years if racially or religiously aggravated, although magistrates courts can generally only impose a sentence of up to six months’ imprisonment for a single offence.