Claudia Webbe has been found guilty following her harassment trial. The MP for Leicester East could now face prison when she is sentenced at Westminster Magistrates' Court on November 4.
The details of the single harassment charge can now be revealed. The victim was 59-year-old Michelle Merritt, a friend of Webbe's partner Lester Thomas. Webbe made 16 calls to Ms Merritt over an 18-month period, which included a threat of acid. She also threatened to send naked videos and photos of Ms Merritt to her daughters. Silent calls were also made from a withheld number. In one recorded call that was played to the court, Webbe can be heard saying "Get out of my relationship" eleven times.
Police told Webbe to stop calling Ms Merritt following a complaint, but the calls continued.
Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and Diane Abbott all provided character references for Webbe in her defence. Abbott described Webbe as a 'very honest woman'. However, judge Paul Goldspring's description of Webbe was less flattering: "Some of the things she [Webbe] said I believe were made up on the spur of the moment. Some things she said in the witness box just don't bear scrutiny. In short, I find Ms Webbe to be vague, incoherent and at times illogical."
Webbe's partner has stood by her during the trial and the pair are said to be engaged.
Webbe, 56 and from Islington, was bailed following the verdict, but declared her innocence: "I am innocent and will appeal this verdict. As I said in court and repeat now, I have never threatened violence nor have I ever harassed anyone." Webbe currently has the Labour whip suspended and the party has now called on her to stand down as an MP. A Labour statement said: "The Labour Party strongly condemns Claudia Webbe's actions and she should now resign."
Webbe would face a recall petition if she is handed down a custodial sentence. In this scenario a petition would open in the constituency for six weeks, during which a ten per cent threshold must be reached in order to trigger a by-election. Two out of three of the previous recall petitions have been successful. Labour's Fiona Onasanya was recalled in Peterborough in 2019, while Tory Christopher Davies was recalled in Brecon and Radnorshire later the same year.
Webbe's majority in Leicester East was 6,019 at the 2019 general election.
Leicester East, 2019 general election
Claudia Webbe (Lab) 25,090 (50.8%) -16.2%
Bhupendra Dave (Con) 19,071 (38.6%) +14.4%
Nitesh Dave (LDem) 2,800 (5.7%) +3.1%
Tara Baldwin (Brexit) 1,243 (2.5%) New
Melanie Wakley (Grn) 888 (1.8%) -0.2%
Sanjay Gogia (Ind) 329 (0.7%) New