Claudia Webbe’s partner may give evidence in MP’s appeal against conviction

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court in November 

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court in November - Credit: PA

Disgraced MP Claudia Webbe’s partner could be called to give evidence for the first time as she tries to overturn her harassment conviction, a court has heard.

The 56-year-old was handed a 10-week jail term, suspended for two years, after she was found guilty at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in November.

The court heard Ms Webbe, a councillor for Islington's Bunhill ward until May 2021, threatened to throw acid at, and reveal naked pictures of, a woman who was friends with her boyfriend Lester Thomas.

Prosecutors said the former Labour MP for Leicester East, who now sits as an independent, harassed Michelle Merritt because she was jealous of her friendship with Mr Thomas, a consultant at Crossrail, football coach, and scout for Chelsea.

He was not called as a witness at Webbe’s trial, where she claimed she was the victim of “domestic abuse and coercive control”.

She told the court she was “goaded and gaslighted” during a row, which resulted in police being called after a neighbour reported her screams.

But the couple arrived holding hands to court, and Mr Thomas sat in the public gallery throughout the trial.

A review hearing was held today - Friday, January 14 - ahead of an appeal against Webbe’s conviction and sentence.

Prosecutor Susannah Stevens said the Crown is “ready” for the appeal, which is expected to last two or three days at Southwark Crown Court.

She explained: “At the magistrates’ court, the defence did not call any defence witnesses.

“It may be that they will call Ms Webbe’s partner Mr Thomas.

“There is body-worn video and a number of recordings that relate to Mr Thomas, which were not used at the magistrates’ court for the obvious reason he was not a witness.

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“But if he is going to be called there is a likelihood we will play the recordings in cross-examination.”

The prosecutor added that the appeal proceedings are likely to extend to three days - should Mr Thomas be summoned.

Webbe, who is now represented by Helen Law, was also criticised by Judge Deborah Taylor for failing to comply with court orders, which were supposed to be responded to by November 30.

The judge said: “I require an explanation of why the orders of the court have not been complied with.”