Michelle Merritt : Claudia Webbe, Labour MP was driven by jealousy to threaten her friend with revenge porn
Claudia Webbe, Labour MP, allegedly made several phone calls to a woman in a harassment campaign between September and April 2013.
A court heard that Michelle Merritt, 59, threatened her MP with sending naked photos of Michelle Merritt’s family because she was jealous about her friendship with her partner.
One was when Merritt, MP for Leicester East, threatened Merritt with acid and threatened to send naked photos and videos to her daughters.
Susannah Stevens, the Prosecutor, said that Webbe was in a relationship at the time with Lester Thomas and sits in the Commons after being suspended from the Labour Party.
She stated that Michelle Merritt was friends and associates with Lester Thomas, which would explain the harassment. Claudia Webbe was also a victim of the harassment.
Silent phone calls
The court heard Webbe make a series short, silent calls to Merritt from an unknown number. Merritt told the court that she has known Thomas for over 15 years and that they are “good friends”. They had previously been in a relationship.
She said that there was a pattern in which, whenever I met with Lester Thomas, we would go out for drinks or other activities. Then, there would be a call.” She gave evidence behind a screen.
“When you’re called and no one answers, it can be unnerving, especially if you’re a single woman.”
Stevens stated that the “harassment escalated” on Mother’s Day (March 31 2019), when Webbe spoke with the alleged victim to ask about Thomas’ relationship.
The prosecutor stated that Merritt’s obsession with Merritt was evident in her refusal to stop seeing her partner.
According to the victim, Webbe claimed that she told her that she was “Lester”‘s girlfriend and then “really began shouting, “Why are you contacting Lester?”
“She was very, very angry with me. She said it was very loud.
“She started to call me a slag, saying that friends don’t send photos of their tits or pussy out to friends. It culminated in her saying, “You’re a Slag and you should have acid.”
“She confirmed that she knew my address and sent me photos and videos, and she also confirmed her knowledge of my family.”
Webbe denied making such threats.
Merritt, executive assistant, wept as Merritt described how she was “very shocked” and “very fearful”. She called police and said: “I have been threatened over the telephone by a public figure using acid.”
Webbe, despite being warned in April 2019 by officers, allegedly continued to make calls to the complainant. Webbe recorded one call after calling her back on April 25, last year.
The call was recorded in court and Webbe repeatedly tells Merritt to “get rid of my relationship”.
She added: “I have also seen all your naked photos,” and “I will show all your pictures.”
Merritt told Webbe that she would contact the media during the call and said that she felt “scared”, fearful, afraid, afraid, and nervous.”
Webbe admitted to the police later that she had spoken with Merritt, but claimed she said those words to Thomas in an argument during which officers were called.
The prosecutor stated that the argument stemmed from the defendant’s dissatisfaction with Merritt’s partner and that Merritt was jealous of her. Merritt was then threatened and told deeply distressing things by her.
Paul Hynes, QC representing Webbe suggested that his client contact Merritt to inform her that Thomas and she should not be violating Covid-19 lockdown regulations starting at the end of March.
He said, “I’m going be suggesting you were clearly and knowingly violating lockdown regulations with Lester Thomas between the end of March and the end of April. Webbe complained about it and asked you stop.”
The complainant responded, “Webbe didn’t ask me that question.”
Hynes stated: “You’ve conducted a little campaign to defeat Webbe because, for whatever reason, you didn’t like that she was in a relationship Lester Thomas.”
Merritt said, “You are wrong.”
“You know that she is vulnerable because of her public image and that is why she said you would go to the media.”
The victim replied, “No.”
Webbe, a north Londoner from Islington denies one count of harassment.
In a black suit, she stood on the dock and spoke to confirm her name, birth date, and address. She then sat next to her solicitor in a well of the court.