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Pro-Brexit MP candidate 'obsessed' with Anna Soubry jailed for harassing her
16 December 2019, 19:30
A pro-Brexit MP candidate who showed an "obsession" with Anna Soubry has been jailed for 28 days for harassing her.
Ms Soubry, who lost her seat during Thursday's election said she was left "frightened" after Amy Dalla Mura repeatedly turned up at her events between January and March.
Dalla Mura, 56, of Eton Villas, Hove, claimed her behaviour was politically motivated debate and did not accept it was frightening.
She then stood in the general election in the same constituency as Ms Soubry - despite living around 200 miles away.
There were shouts of "democracy is dead" and "shame on you" from Dalla Mura and a packed public gallery when Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot gave her sentencing remarks.
"Ever since the murder of Jo Cox, MPs no longer feel able to put up with sustained intimidation," she said.
"You showed an obsession and fixation with Ms Soubry which has led you to bullying and intimidating, and harassing, this now-ex MP for Broxtowe."
Judge Arbuthnot told Westminster Magistrates' Court the actions "stop ordinary, decent people" becoming MPs.
"This damages our democracy. Because who wants to put up with this sort of harassment?" she added.
Anna Soubry lost her Broxtowe seat while standing for the Independent Group for Change in the general election.
Ahead of the sentencing, Judge Arbuthnot questioned why Dalla Mura had chosen to stand in Broxtowe, Nottinghamshire, just days after Ms Soubry told the trial she feared for her safety following the defendant's actions.
"It was hard to see how (Dalla Mura) couldn't have understood it was frightening," Judge Arbuthnot said.
"Anyone with any sense would say it's not a good time. I don't mind standing in Hove but certainly not in Broxtowe," she added.
The court heard that on January 23, Dalla Mura disrupted an event where Ms Soubry was speaking, repeatedly interrupting her and live streaming the event on Facebook.
Dalla Mura had to be escorted from the premises - the Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel in central London - before the event could continue.
A second incident involved the 56-year-old branding Ms Soubry a "traitor" as she gave a live television interview to BBC's Newsnight in Parliament's Central Lobby, while once again using her mobile phone to video her.
The defendant was asked to stop filming in the premises, as it is not permitted, and left after police officers attended the incident on March 14.
A week later, on March 22, Dalla Mura tried to intercept the MP outside the Cabinet Office in Westminster saying she wanted to "have a word", but did not manage to find her.
Dalla Mura, who denied harassment but was found guilty following a trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court, is banned from contacting Ms Soubry under a three-year restraining order.
Dalla Mura stood for the English Democrats and received 432 votes.
Ms Soubry, who became a target for Brexiteers after quitting the Tory party earlier this year, lost her seat to Conservative candidate Darren Henry after coming third in the general election, receiving some 4,668 votes.