MP Claudia Webbe guilty of harassment after acid and naked picture threat to boyfriend’s friend

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Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe leaving court (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe leaving court (Dominic Lipinski/PA) (PA Archive)

MP Claudia Webbe who threatened to use acid against her boyfriend's female friend and reveal naked photographs of her has been found guilty of harassment.

Claudia Webbe, 56, who sits in the Commons as an independent MP for Leicester East after being suspended by the Labour Party, made a string of calls to 59-year-old Michelle Merritt between September 1 2018 and April 26 last year.

During one, she called Ms Merritt "a slag", threatened her with acid and said she would send naked pictures and videos to her daughters, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

In another call, recorded by the complainant, Webbe is heard telling the victim to "get out of my relationship" some 11 times.

Prosecutor Susannah Stevens said Webbe harassed Ms Merritt because she was jealous of her friendship with Mr Thomas, a consultant at Crossrail, football coach and scout for Chelsea.

Webbe, from Islington, north London, denied harassment, claiming she only made "courtesy calls" to warn Ms Merritt not to breach coronavirus regulations by meeting Mr Thomas.

And Paul Hynes QC, defending, read out a string of character references from figures including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, ex-shadow chancellor John McDonnell and former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott.

But Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring found her guilty on Wednesday following a two-day trial.

He adjourned sentencing to November 4 and released Webbe on unconditional bail but warned her she could face prison.

Convicting Webbe, 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.”

Mr Goldspring adjourned sentencing to November 4 and released Webbe on unconditional bail but warned her she could face prison.

“Threatening to throw acid at somebody and to send intimate photographs to family members crosses the custody threshold,” he said.

Following the verdict, Ms Webbe, said she was "deeply shocked" at the outcome of the trial.

She said: "I am innocent and will appeal this verdict. As I said in court and repeat now, I have never threatened violence nor have I ever harassed anyone."

Her lawyer, Raj Chada, head of criminal defence at social justice law firm Hodge Jones & Allen added: "We will be appealing this unjust verdict. The recording of the call Ms Webbe made has been taken out of context. We are sure that Ms Webbe will be vindicated at an appeal."

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