Police probe online abuse aimed at MP

Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood
Cat Smith, the MP for Lancaster and Fleetwood

Police are investigating threatening messages aimed at Lancaster and Fleetwood MP Cat Smith on social media.

The Labour politician called in officers at the weekend after comments were posted by two separate trolls on Facebook.

“I have talked to the police and they seem optimistic they can trace these people,” said Ms Smith. “Personally I’m not unduly worried. I take advice from police around personal safety very seriously.

“But I’m just angry that social media companies do not take their responsibilities seriously enough when it comes to this sort of thing. I reported these posts to Facebook, but they said they did not breach their rules.”

One troll wrote about Ms Smith: “She should be raped by 100 muslims stupid bitch.” The other posted: “Hope she gets raped then.”

Ms Smith said she had reported “numerous” posts to social media in the past, but this was the first time she had brought in the police.

“The reason I flagged them up this time was my frustration about social media companies not taking their responsibilities seriously. I’m angry that it is considered OK by a minority of people.

“Some people seem to think it’s part of the job. They feel that if you are in a public role then you should expect it. Well I don’t think anyone should expect that, regardless of whether they are in public life or not.

“You wouldn’t dream of saying that to someone in the street, yet it’s somehow OK to say it on social media.

“I’ve reported some nasty stuff before. One was a post saying a colleague deserved a bullet in the head - that would fix him. Now I’ve got to the end of my patience with it.

“All MPs I have spoken to have had something at some point. More women than men. But it puts women off going into public life and that’s not acceptable.”

On Thursday MPs are set to debate the abuse politicians face from the public, especially during elections. “That’s quite timely,” said Ms Smith. “I will certainly be taking part in that.”