Katie Price's call over online abuse of disabled people backed by MPs
22 January 2019, 09:23 | Updated: 22 January 2019, 11:17
Katie Price has won the backing of MPs who have agreed that laws governing online abuse of disabled people are "not fit for purpose".
Ms Price started a petition to make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders, which employers could use to screen out abusers.
The TV presenter and former model wrote: "Trolling is a major problem in this day and age. People of all ages and background suffer every day, including my family - especially my son Harvey.
"I have tried my best to expose people and even had two arrested but nothing was done and there were no repercussions or penalties for this behaviour."
More than 220,000 backed her campaign and the House of Commons Petitions Committee started an inquiry into online abuse, especially of people with disabilities.
Its report has found that despite the government launching its internet safety strategy in 2017 to target "dangers like cyber-bullying, trolling and under-age access to porn" online, it failed to protect disabled people.
"Online abuse can destroy people's careers, their social lives and do lasting damage to their health," said the MPs.
"People should not have to avoid their town centre, local park or place of work to avoid sustained abuse, mockery and threats," they added.
"Online spaces are just as important in the modern world and should be treated as such."
The MPs said the law on hate crime must give disabled people the same protections as those who suffer hate crime due to race or religion.
Ms Price told MPs of "the most horrific things" which had been said about her teenage son Harvey, who has Prader-Willi syndrome, autism, and is partially blind.
She said he was attacked because he does not have the ability to speak back and because online trolls "find him an easy target".
Other people submitted evidence to the committee of abusive Facebook groups targeting people with dwarfism, and complained about media treatment of the disabled as "scroungers".
Among the report's recommendations are that social media companies should be required to make sure their rules and guidelines are accessible to disabled people.
The MPs also want the government to make it a specific crime to "stir up hatred against someone because of their disability".
They also agreed it should look at different ways to enable employers to find out if a person has been convicted of online abuse, potentially including a register.
Ms Price tweeted that she was "very pleased that my campaign has been taken so seriously by parliament. We will not stop until this is a crime".
(c) Sky News 2019: Katie Price's call over online abuse of disabled people backed by MPs