Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe has appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court to plead on a single charge of harassment. Webbe was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after she was charged in September. The court heard that she had made numerous unwanted phone calls to a woman between September 2018 and April 2020, at least two of which were threatening in nature. Webbe, 55, denied the charge and will go on trial on March 16. If convicted she could face a recall petition and lose her Parliamentary seat.
In the meantime Webbe has been granted unconditional bail and will remain suspended as a Labour MP. She retains her party membership pending the outcome of the trial and also remains a member of Labour's ruling National Executive Committee in addition to her role as a councillor in Islington.
The Leicester Mercury reports that Webbe asked the judge if she could be excused from appearing in the dock and providing her address. The magistrate rebuffed her request and told her: "Everybody goes into the dock in this building. Everyone who has been in front of me for the last few years has been in the dock. I don’t see why there should be an exceptional course in this case."
Webbe's colleague Apsana Begum has her day in court next month, when she will plead on three charges of housing fraud. Unlike Webbe, Begum has not been stripped of the Labour whip. The reason is unclear. Both MPs are members of the hard left Socialist Campaign Group.