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UK Politics

Twitter abuse directed at Louise Mensch 'could be illegal'


Some of the abusive comments posted on the social networking site Twitter and aimed at the MP Louise Mensch 'could be illegal' a police officer said today.

Stuart Hyde, Cumbria Police chief constable, who has national responsibility with the Association of Chief Police Officers for e-crime, said today,

"I have read the comments made about Louise and it is sexist bigotry at its worst."

Some of the comments were "pretty horrendous" and could be illegal, he said.

Conservative MP Louise Mensch has condemned ‘immoral and misogynistic’ Twitter users after she was subjected to abuse following the findings of the Commons media committee report into phone hacking.

Mensch, Member of Parliament for Corby, hit out today at the "sexual insults and slurs" directed at her after the committee's decision not to back criticism of the media baron Rupert Murdoch.

A Labour amendment to the Commons media committee report had described Rupert Murdoch as 'not a fit person to run an international company' - but Conservative members of the committee voted against it.

Mensch received a barrage of abusive tweets following the decision and her subsequent media appearances justifying it.

She was described by Twitter users as a 'bitch' and a 'whore' - one person said they would "love to hit Louise Mensch in the face with a hammer" - and another post read "given half the chance, you'd strangle her".

Speaking today on BBC Radio 4, Ms Mensch, who as well as being an MP is a successful author, said the "abuse directed at women is always sexual or violent."

"If somebody is considered attractive, it's a sexual and violent fantasy levelled against them. If someone is considered unattractive, it's personal remarks about their body."

She added, "The stuff directed at me was not illegal, it was just immoral and misogynistic."

Ms Mensch used the 'favourite' function on Twitter in order to collate the offensive tweets.

She also defended the social networking site saying, "it's not Twitter's fault, Twitter provides a social media platform."

"It's the fault of the users, they have to be responsible for their own words and what they say."

Explaining why she had shared the offensive messages Mensch said "It really is just a matter of calling bullies out."

Speaking today Stuart Hyde, Cumbria Police chief constable said,

"There is quite a bit of legislation available to us - the Communications Act 2003, the Malicious Communications Act back in 1988 talks about offences of communications with an intent to cause distress, anxiety or are grossly offensive.

"And clearly some of this is either in or very close to that border."