A senior MP has accused police of giving the “green light” to internet trolls after a vexatious complaint saw her subjected to a social services investigation.
Stella Creasy was told her harasser would not face criminal sanctions because he was “entitled” to his view her children should be taken into care because of her “extreme” views, she told Sky News.
The man did not personally know the Labour MP or her two children but disagreed with her campaigning against misogyny and her call to be allowed in the voting chamber with her breastfeeding baby.
Ms Creasy was subjected to a safeguarding review and quickly cleared.
The troll was referred to the police, who told him to stop contacting her.
“I was horrified and humiliated because these are professionals that I work with in safeguarding children in my local community and then frankly outraged that somebody’s response to disagreeing with me was to suggest my children would be at risk and so should be removed from me,” the MP told Sky News.
“We can all have robust conversations, debates, discussions, I can passionately disagree with people, but threatening to take away their children because you don’t agree with somebody is not free speech, it’s a form of harassment.”
The MP for Walthamstow in north London said Leicestershire Police told her it was “insignificant as a form of harassment”.
She said she thought the police decision “gives a green light to those people who disagree with people in the public eye – not just politicians but journalists and campaigners – because this guy was targeting other people, other women as well that he disagreed with – to harass them through their families.
“And I just think in a democracy we do not want to go there.”
“The police officer told me that my views were extreme,” she added.
“He said it was perfectly reasonable because other people on social media – as if Twitter is our metric for normal, sane debate in this country right now – would have expressed the same views and said this man had a perfectly protected right and was entitled to do what he did, but also then said he wasn’t motivated by hatred of women.
“If this isn’t hating women, I don’t know what is.”
Police investigated a ‘number of emails’
Leicestershire Police said it had investigated a “number of emails” sent to the MP and gave the man a community resolution rather than a formal sanction because the messages did not meet the threshold for a criminal offence.
It said the content of the messages had “understandably caused upset and distress” and officers had spoken with the sender, who admitted he was responsible and apologised.
It said there has been no report of further unwanted contact.
“Leicestershire Police takes any report of harassment extremely seriously and will carry out a full investigation into the report and take the appropriate action,” the spokesperson said.
“The force remains fully committed to keeping women and girls safe, listening to concerns and tackling violence.”
A spokesperson for Waltham Forest Council added: “All safeguarding allegations are dealt with in line with the national legislation. We have a duty to treat each case seriously and ensure the statutory process is followed.”