Corbyn supporter who sent 'obscene' death messages to Labour MPs spared jail

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Nicholas Nelson, 31, from North Walsham in Norfolk, arrives at Westminster Magistrates Court where he is appearing for sending abusive emails and phone calls to independent peer John Mann, Labour MP Margaret Hodge and former Labour MP Louise Ellman.
Nicholas Nelson, 31, has been sentenced for abusing three Labour MPs. (PA)

A Jeremy Corbyn supporter who left a Jewish Labour MP “disturbed” after he called her a “racist Zionist” and said he hoped she would die has been spared jail.

Nicholas Nelson described Margaret Hodge as a “Tory c***” to her parliamentary assistant, used the same phrase to describe another Labour MP and left a voicemail for a third saying “kill yourself”.

The 31-year-old admitted three counts of sending communications of an offensive nature in 2018, relating to abuse received by Hodge, Louise Ellman and John Mann. Ellman and Mann are no longer MPs.

Read more: The Jeremy Corbyn anti-Semitism row explained

Simon Maughan, prosecuting, previously said the offence against Hodge was flagged as a “hate crime”.

Nelson was spared prison on Tuesday, instead being sentenced to 30 weeks’ imprisonment, suspended for 18 months.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said the defendant had used the “most vulgar, obscene, threatening vocabulary I can think of”.

“People should feel able to come forward and serve as MPs without fear of violence and threat. Certain communities have felt particularly under threat,” he added.

File photo dated 15/03/20 of former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn ahead of the release of a report by the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) report into how the Labour Party has handled the anti-Semitism crisis. The report comes after years of complaints over how allegations of anti-Semitism were dealt with under Jeremy Corbyn's leadership.
Nelson was a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. (PA)

“And these courts will send a clear message to those who threaten members of those communities, who attack them because of their faith.”

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard that Nelson said to Hodge’s parliamentary assistant in a phone call: “Margaret should f*** off, you f***ing racist Zionist c***.

“You need to get out of the party and I hope you die, you Tory c***.”

In another call that same day, the court heard he said: “Margaret Hodge is an apartheid-supporting disgusting scumbag b****.”

Hodge, Labour’s MP for Barking since 1994, said she was also told by her office staff about abusive emails.

She added in a statement: “After reading them I felt disturbed and rather shocked at the vitriol expressed.

“I considered the emails to be threatening and was left feeling nervous and unsure about my safety.

“For the first time, I now feel under threat because of my Jewish identity.”

Nicholas Nelson arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London for sentencing after pleading guilty to three counts of sending communications of an offensive nature in 2018.
Nicholas Nelson pleaded guilty to three counts of sending communications of an offensive nature in 2018. (PA)

Nelson also targeted Ellman, who resigned from Labour after citing the party’s then leader Corbyn and its antisemitism issue.

“Louise Ellman is a hypocritical Tory c*** who is so thick she is trying to smear Corbyn with an event she herself attended,” Nelson said in an email in August 2018 that the court heard left a parliamentary assistant “extremely uncomfortable and distressed”.

Read more: UK's Labour roiled by feud over anti-Semitism and Corbyn

A parliamentary assistant to John Mann, then an MP who now sits in the House of Lords, answered an abusive phone call in September 2018, the court heard. A voicemail referring to Mann said: “Kill yourself. When are you going to have a stroke?”

Mann said Nelson’s constant phone calls meant he could not answer the phone to constituents and added: “I call out racism and anti-Semitism, but the abuse and threats of violence have led to my staff asking me not to do so.”

Nicholas Nelson arrives at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London for sentencing after pleading guilty to three counts of sending communications of an offensive nature in 2018.
Nicholas Nelson said he wanted to issue a full apology to the politicians. (PA)

Nelson, of North Walsham, Norfolk, had previously sent abusive and threatening emails in April 2018 in which he said he was Jewish, the court heard.

He was given a 20-week prison sentence, suspended for one year, in December 2018 after he admitted harassing Jewish then-Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth earlier that year.

Defending Nelson, Julian Young said he had “undiagnosed psychiatric difficulties” when the offences took place and is now taking medication and undergoing treatment.

“In a parliamentary democracy, MPs of whatever party and whatever religious belief – and I’m Jewish myself so I know what anti-Semitism is and I’ve suffered it – are entitled to go about their duties on behalf of their constituents without having to face such conduct, and he accepts that,” he said.

Young read out an apology from Nelson to the three politicians on Wednesday.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said: “I have considered carefully whether I can suspend the sentences and I felt just about able to do so.

“That doesn’t take away the seriousness of the offences. That simply reflects we are now two years down the road, that there have been no further offences and that I see you are now seeking the assistance of a psychiatrist and dealing with issues you say were a feature of your life then.”

Speaking about Nelson’s past conviction, the magistrate added: “I took a very serious view in December 2018.

“I did so then and I do so now because there has been a significant increase in threats made to MPs – threats of violence, threats based on their faith and on race.

“It’s something I have not encountered previously, but over the last couple of years this has become commonplace.”

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