Dame Margaret Hodge felt ‘under threat for Jewish heritage’ after activist’s anti-Semitic rant, court hears

Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge was subjected to an anti-Semitic rant from a party activist that left her feeling “under threat” because of her Jewish heritage, a court heard.

Nicholas Nelson, 31, who also targeted former Labour MPs Lord John Mann and Dame Louise Ellman with abusive messages, is now facing a possible jail sentence.

All three MPs had publicly expressed concerns about anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

Nelson, from Norfolk, pleaded guilty to three counts of sending a communication or article of an indecent or offensive nature at Bristol Magistrates’ court on 30 September.

The messages were sent between July and September 2018. Dame Margaret received an offensive call, Lord Mann a phone message and Dame Louise an email.

The court was told by prosecutor Simon Maughan that Dame Margaret’s parliamentary office received a call in which the defendant said: “F*** off you f****** Zionist racist c*** I hope you die you Tory scum.”

A further tirade accuses her of being an “apartheid supporting disgusting scumbag b****.”

In a victim impact statement read to the court Dame Margaret said: “For the first time I feel under threat for my Jewish heritage.”

Dame Louise’s parliamentary assistant said she felt “extremely uncomfortable and distressed” after reading an email sent by Nelson on August 2 2018, the court heard.

“Louise Ellman is a hypocritical Tory c*** who is so thick she is trying to smear (then Labour leader Jeremy) Corbyn with an event she herself attended,” it said.

Lord Mann’s parliamentary assistant answered an abusive phone call on September 3 2018, while a voicemail referring to the peer said: “Kill yourself. When are you going to have a stroke?”

The court heard that Nelson, of North Walsham in Norfolk, had previously sent abusive and threatening emails in April that year in which he also said he was Jewish himself.

He appeared in the dock today dressed in burgundy shirt and dark trousers.

Dame Louise Ellman (Bruce Adams/ANL/Shutterstock)

Julian Young, defending Nelson, said his client had “undiagnosed psychiatric difficulties” at the time of the offences and his mental health issues are now being dealt with by medication and 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.

“My client has given me written instructions and tenders a full apology to the three victims to the harm caused by his comments.”

Senior District Judge Emma Arbuthnot to be adjourned the sentencing to 25 November at Westminster Magistrates for reports to be prepared. She earlier told the court “the sentence could be custodial … all options are open.”

Nelson was previously sentenced to 20 weeks in prison suspended for a year, after sending offensive messages to MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth in 2018.

He also was ordered to do 160 hours of community service, 20 days in rehab, and pay £250 in court costs and fees.

He was also banned under a restraining order from contacting Ms Berger or Ms Smeeth for the next five years.


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