An MP who threatened to throw acid in the face of another woman during a one-sided harassment campaign born out of jealousy has been spared an immediate jail sentence.
Claudia Webbe, Leicester East MP since 2019, showed no emotion as she was handed a 10-week jail term – suspended for two years – and 200 hours’ community service at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday for harassing Michelle Merritt, a long-term friend of her boyfriend, Lester Thomas, who said she needed therapy after her ordeal.
Webbe, 56, denied the allegation and said she felt like a “victim” herself due to the amount of abuse she received on social media.
She was convicted last month after the court heard she also threatened to leak naked images of Ms Merritt and made a string of phone calls in which she warned her to “get out of my relationship”. The court heard the pair had never met in person.
Paul Goldspring, the chief magistrate, described Webbe’s behaviour as “callous and intimidatory”.
Sentencing her on Thursday, he said: “You were jealous of the relationship between Lester Thomas and Michelle Merritt, and probably felt in some way threatened by it.”
He said Webbe “showed little remorse or contrition” and would have been jailed immediately were it not for her previous good character.
Webbe sits in the Commons as an independent after being suspended by the Labour Party over the case.
The sentence means Webbe will face a recall petition, which could trigger a by-election if at least 10% of her constituents support it.
However, the process would have to wait until the outcome of any appeal by Webbe against her conviction, an avenue she said she is pursuing.