Labour Party Tells Claudia Webbe To Resign After She Loses Appeal

·2 min read
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)
Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)

Leicester East MP Claudia Webbe  (Photo: Dominic Lipinski - PA Images via Getty Images)

The Labour Party has again told MP Claudia Webbe to resign after she lost her appeal against her conviction for harassing a love rival.

The former Labour MP currently represents her Leicester East constituency as an independent after being expelled from the party.

However, she lost her appeal against her harassment conviction on Thursday prompting the party to call on her to step down.

A spokesperson for the party said: “The allegations in this case were extremely serious.

“The Labour Party rightly expects elected representatives to maintain the very highest standards at all times.

“Ms Webbe should now resign so the people of Leicester East can get the representation they deserve.”

Although she lost her appeal, Webbe’s sentence has been reduced after a judge found she did not threaten the victim with acid.

Webbe was last year found guilty and handed a 10-week suspended sentence after targeting Michelle Merritt, 59, between September 2018 and April 2020.

She had faced the prospect of a recall petition, which could have resulted in a by-election in her constituency, as a result of the suspended custodial sentence originally imposed.

The reduced, non-custodial sentence means she now avoids that prospect and the only way to trigger a by-election would be if she stepped down.

Prosecutors said the 18-month harassment campaign was driven by “obsession” and “jealousy” over her boyfriend Lester Thomas’s relationship with executive assistant Merritt.

Sexual text messages between the pair, which were revealed for the first time during Webbe’s appeal hearing at Southwark Crown Court, proved the pair were having an affair.

Helen Law, defending argued the messages showed Merritt had repeatedly lied, having told the magistrates’ court they were just “good friends”.

But on Thursday, following an appeal hearing at Southwark Crown Court Judge Deborah Taylor and two magistrates dismissed the appeal.

The judge said: “We found that although Michelle Merritt was an unsatisfactory witness who told lies about the nature of her relationship with Lester Thomas until the downloads from her phone made the nature of the relationship clear, in other respects we accept her evidence.”

She reduced Webbe’s suspended sentence to a 12-month community order of 80 hours unpaid work, although Webbe has already carried out 150 hours, and cut the compensation from £1,000 to £50.

The judge said the evidence differed “considerably” from that heard in the magistrates’ court.

After the hearing, Webbe said in a statement: “I am deeply shocked by today’s outcome.

“As I said in court and repeat now, I have never threatened violence nor would I.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.

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