politics

MP Claudia Webbe ‘engaged in campaign of harassment against woman’



A

n MP threatened to send naked pictures of a woman to her family because she was jealous of her friendship with her partner, a court has heard.

Claudia Webbe 56, also allegedly called 59-year-old Michelle Merritt “a slag” during a campaign of harassment between September 1 2018 and April 26 last year.

Westminster Magistrates’ Court heard on Monday that Webbe, who sits in the Commons as an independent MP for Leicester East after being suspended by the Labour Party was in a friendship with Lester Thomas at the time.

“The reason for the harassment would appear to be the fact that Michelle Merritt was friends with Lester Thomas and this was an issue for the defendant Claudia Webbe,” said prosecutor Susannah Stevens.

She said Webbe made a string of short silent phone calls from a withheld number to Ms Merritt, who told the court she had known Mr Thomas for more than 15 years and were “good friends”, having previously dated.

“There was a pattern that whenever I had even met with Lester Thomas, if we had gone out for a drink or something, there would be a phone call,” she said, giving evidence from behind a screen. “When you are being called and no one answers, it’s unnerving, especially as a woman who lives alone.”

Ms Stevens said the “harassment escalated in form” on Mother’s Day, March 31 2019, when Webbe spoke to the alleged victim and asked about her relationship with Mr Thomas.

The Crown say Claudia Webbe was in such a state during this call that not only did she query the nature of the contact and fail to accept that Michelle Merritt and Lester Thomas were just friends, she then went on to say, ‘She’s a slag’, and also, ‘Should be acid’.

“The defendant further threatened Ms Merritt that naked photos and videos of her would be sent to Ms Merritt’s children.



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