Claudia Webbe MP found guilty of harassment

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A former Labor MP, who threatened to use acid against his boyfriend’s girlfriend and threatened to reveal nude photos of him, has been found guilty of harassment.

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Claudia Webb, 56, who sits as an independent after being suspended by the Labor Party, made several calls last year to Michelle Merritt, 59, between 1 September 2018 and 26 April.

During one, he called Ms Merritt “a lava”, threatened her with acid and said she would send nude photos and videos to her daughters, Westminster Magistrates Court heard.


Prosecutor Susannah Stevens said Webb harassed Ms Merritt because she was jealous of her friendship with Mr Thomas, a consultant at Crossrail, football coach and scout for Chelsea.

Webb, of Islington, north London, denied the harassment, claiming she only made a “courtesy call” to warn Ms Merritt not to violate coronavirus rules by meeting Mr Thomas.

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The trial heard several character references including former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, ex-Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell and former Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott.

But Chief Magistrate Paul Goldspring found him guilty on Wednesday after a two-day trial.

“I think she was jealous of the relationship between Lester and Michelle, whatever the nature of that relationship, she definitely thought it was something she wasn’t happy with,” he said.

He postponed the sentence until November 4 and released Webb on unconditional bail but warned him that he could face jail.

Following the verdict, Ms Webb said she was “deeply shocked” at the outcome of the trial and would appeal.

She said: “I am innocent and will appeal against this decision. As I said in court and repeat now, I have never threatened violence nor have I ever harassed anyone.”

CPS Special Crimes Division Specialist Prosecutor Lisa Rose said: “Claudia Webb’s persistent nuisance behavior deeply disturbed and worried the victim, who was genuinely concerned for her safety.

Webb told police that she did not appreciate that the calls were unwanted or causing distress. However, the prosecution’s case was that the police had issued her a clear warning about her conduct.

“No one should have to endure this kind of harassment. We are committed to bring the perpetrators to justice and help protect the victims.”

The trial heard that the MP made several short, silent telephone calls from a withheld number before being hanged.

Despite being asked by the police to stop, he continued to make at least 15 more calls after April 2019.

A final threat call was recorded by the victim in April 2020, when Webb again threatened to release nude images, prompting police to interview her.

Webb’s lawyer, Raj Chadha, head of criminal defense at social justice law firm Hodge Jones & Allen, said: “We will appeal this unjust decision. The recording of the call made by Ms. Webe has been taken out of context. We are sure Ms. Webb will be upheld on appeal. “


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