MP Claudia Webbe handed suspended sentence for harassing partner’s fem…

Claudia Webbe MP has been handed a 10-week suspended sentence for harassing a female friend of her boyfriend.

The 56-year-old, who sits as an independent MP after being suspended by Labour, was also given 200 hours’ of community service by Westminster Magistrates Court on Thursday.

Webbe was convicted of harassment last month.

The court heard she had made a string of threatening calls to Michelle Merritt, a friend of her partner Lester Thomas, in the space of around a year and a half.

In one of them, she threatened to throw acid over the 59-year-old and proportion naked images of her.

In his ruling on Thursday, Paul Goldspring, the chief magistrate, said Webbe’s behaviour was “callous and intimidatory”.

“You were jealous of the relationship between Lester Thomas and Michelle Merritt, and probably felt in some way threatened by it,” he said.

Mr Goldspring said Webbe “showed little remorse or contrition” and would have been jailed closest were it not for her past good character.

The outcome method the 56-year-old gets to automatically keep her seat in parliament. MPs who receieve a jail sentence of a year and more lose their seat.

But the sentence method Webbe will confront a ingemination appeal, which could cause a by-election if at the minimum 10 per cent of her constituents sustain it.

the time of action must wait until the outcome of any allurement by Webbe against her conviction, an method she said she is pursuing.

Following the sentence, Webbe said in a statement: “I am very disappointed by the decision of the magistrate and want to strongly reiterate that I am innocent.”

“I am lodging an allurement and despite today’s sentence I fully expect the allurement to be granted and that, ultimately, it will be successful.

She additional: “Throughout this course of action I have received numerous threats to my life and vile racist abuse. The cowards responsible for these attacks will not deter me from clearing my name.”

in addition as the suspended sentence and community service, the MP was ordered to pay £3,128 in costs and surchages.

Her counsel, Paul Hynes QC, said his client was “in meaningful personal debt” pre-dating her time as an MP and offered to pay the fine in £100 increments every 28 days.

The chief magistrate said that was “not going to cut it” for someone on Webbe‘s salary and ordered it be paid within six months.

Before the sentencing, the prosecution told the court Webbe’s offending was “persistent” and took place “over a prolonged period”.

Susannah Stevens said her client Ms Merritt had to “make changes to her life” – including commuting by taxi – as she felt unsafe. The defendant also thought about moving house, the court was told.

Meanwhile, Ms Merritt told the court: “I am so very proud I have had the strength to continue because no woman should be threatened or harassed the way she has to me over the years, least of all a politician.”

Defending Webbe, Paul Hynes QC said his client had received threats of violence and racist comments on social media.

Mr Goldspring said he found it “strange and concerning” that the probation service report said Webbe felt like a victim herself.

The chief magistrate said he counted four occasions when Webbe referred to herself as “the victim” during her testimony from the observe box at the trial.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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