MP Claudia Webbe found guilty of harassment

Claudia Webbe, the former Labour MP, has been convicted of harassment after threatening a woman with acid and telling her she would send naked pictures of her to her daughters.

The politician, who now sits as an independent MP for Leicester East, was accused of conducting a campaign of harassment against Michelle Merritt after becoming obsessively jealous of her relationship with her boyfriend, the Chelsea Football Club scout, Lester Thomas.

She was found guilty of one count of harassment following a trial at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

Webbe said she was "deeply shocked" by the verdict and her lawyers said they intended to appeal.

Lisa Rose from the Crown Prosecution Service, said: "Claudia Webbe’s persistent nuisance behaviour caused considerable distress and alarm to her victim who became genuinely concerned for her safety.

"Webbe told police she did not appreciate the calls were unwanted or causing distress. However the prosecution case was that the police had issued her with a clear warning about her conduct.

"No-one should have to endure this sort of harassment. We are determined to bring perpetrators to justice and help protect victims."

The 56-year-old MP – who was suspended by the Labour Party after being charged – made a number of phone calls to Ms Merritt between September 1 2018 and April last year.

‘Get out of my relationship’

In one exchange she called Ms Merritt a "slag" and on another occasion repeatedly told her to "get out of my relationship".

But Webbe claimed she had only spoken to Ms Merritt to warn her not to breach Covid rules with her partner.

In her statement, she said: "I was deeply frustrated that my partner and my accuser had been socialising in the middle of the Covid pandemic, contrary to the rules and all health advice. I was frightened and frustrated by his behaviour. 

"But that fear and frustration could not and should not have been interpreted as harassment. The recording of the call has been taken out of context."

But Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring rejected the argument and found Webbe guilty of the harassment charge.

Webbe had allegedly become obsessed with Mr Thomas’s friendship with Ms Merritt, a former girlfriend who he dated around 15-years ago.

Webbe allegedly made a series of silent phone calls to Ms Merritt from a withheld number.

But the court was told that the harassment had escalated on Mother’s Day 2019 when she spoke to her on the telephone, called her "slag" and threatened to send naked pictures and videos of her to Mrs Merritt’s daughters.

It is not clear whether she was in possession of any images, but threatening revenge porn was outlawed following a change in the law earlier this year.

Ms Merritt reported the matter to the police in April 2019 and Webbe was warned by police.

‘Why are you still butting in and getting with Lester?’

But despite the warning the politician made a further 16 calls to Ms Merritt who recorded one, which was later played to the court.

In the recording that was played to the court, Ms Webbe can be heard saying: "Why are you still butting in and getting with Lester? Why, why?

"He’s not your friend, he’s with me and I don’t want you to be in touch with me, I don’t want you to be in touch with him."

In the background, Mr Thomas could be heard shouting: "Don’t listen to her, send me a message whenever you like. Michelle, come off the phone and call the police."

Ms Webbe then screams: "Lester why don’t you go and live with her? Take everything and go and live with her."

She can then be heard repeatedly shouting "Get out of my relationship."

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