Claudia Webbe: CPS apologises over acid threat inaccuracy in press release

Claudia Webbe arriving on Thursday
Claudia Webbe was found guilty of harassing Michelle Merritt in 2021
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An MP has received an apology after the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) failed to properly update a press release stating she had "made a threat to throw acid".

Claudia Webbe, an independent MP for Leicester East, was convicted of harassing a woman in 2021 and later lost an appeal against the ruling.

The court of appeal however found she had not made a threat to throw acid, as her trial originally heard.

But the CPS did not issue this update.

The former Labour MP was found guilty of harassing Michelle Merritt between September 2018 and April 2020, who was having a sexual relationship with her then partner.

In May 2022, an appeal judge said the court found Webbe had not "made a threat to throw acid over" Ms Merritt, but that a string of silent phone calls and threats to reveal naked pictures of her "amounted to harassment".

A 10-week suspended prison sentence she received in November was also reduced to community service.

The CPS had originally published a press release which reflected what was ruled at the trial. However after the appeal, an amendment did not accurately reflect the appeal court's findings.

Webbe complained to the Independent Assessor of Complaint (IAC) - which investigates complaints made to the CPS - claiming the inaccuracy "contributed to [her] receiving constant death threats, silent calls, and vile online social media abuse".

Goodwill payment

A letter to Webbe from IAC, seen by the BBC, said the updated press release was "both incorrect and reputationally damaging" and that the error has "an adverse effect" on the MP's health and wellbeing.

The CPS agreed to make a "goodwill payment" following IAC's recommendation.

Webbe said "no amount of compensation could address what [she] has been through".

She also said she believed the incorrect update was "motivated by racism and sexism", claims which the IAC said it found no evidence of.

A spokesperson for the CPS said: "We have apologised to Claudia Webbe MP for information in a press release which was not properly corrected and agreed to make a goodwill payment of £100."

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