Disgraced MP Claudia Webbe launches bid to appeal harassment conviction

9 November 2021, 11:40

Claudia Webbe has refused to step down as MP
Claudia Webbe has refused to step down as MP. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Claudia Webbe has started her bid to appeal her harassment conviction, after the disgraced MP got a suspended jail term for threatening to throw acid in a woman's face.

The behaviour of the Leicester East MP, who was suspended from the Labour Party over the verdict, was described as "callous and intimidatory" at her sentencing.

Westminster Magistrates' Court heard that as well as threatening to hurl acid in the face of Michelle Merritt – a friend of Webbe's boyfriend Lester Thomas – she also made repeated phone calls in which she warned the victim to "get out of my relationship".

She also threatened to release naked photos of Ms Merritt. The two had never met in person.

Webbe, 56, is appealing to have her conviction overturned, despite being warned she could also see her 10-week jail term, suspended for two years, increased.

Read more: 'Callous' Claudia Webbe gets suspended sentence after harassment conviction

During a 12-minute hearing at Southwark Crown Court, Judge Deborah Taylor told Webbe's counsel, Raj Chada: "No doubt the appellant has been told sentences can go up as well as down."

Mr Chada said: "She (Webbe) has been advised."

The appeal hearing is listed for March 9. If a recall petition were to secure a byelection for Webbe's seat, it would have to wait until her appeal hearing is over.

Sentencing earlier in November, Paul Goldspring, the chief magistrate at Westminster, also gave the MP 200 hours of community service and told her to pay £3,128 in costs, compensation and surcharges.

Webbe, who continues to deny the allegation against her, said she felt like a "victim" because of the abuse she got on social media.

Labour said it would push for a recall petition to trigger a byelection if Webbe did not step down as MP.