Norwich election hopeful is sent chilling death threat
12:58 29 April 2015
An election hopeful has said she will continue to campaign and deliver leaflets despite a faceless death threat being made against her on Facebook. It is the latest in a series of abuse faced by candidates.
Police are urging anyone with information to come forward after Conservative candidate for Norwich South Lisa Townsend was sent a menacing message from an anonymous social media account, detailing how she would be killed if another election leaflet was sent to their home.
She is not the only candidate to experience online attacks.
Both UKIP and Labour candidates have spoken about personal and sexist intimidation.
Jessica Asato, who is standing for Labour in Norwich North, said she had been sent a message on Twitter telling her that “women deserved to be raped”.
“Even though it was not directed at me, it felt like it. It was on my personal Twitter feed. When you are looking for comments and all of a sudden you get something saying ‘women deserve to be raped’, it feels very close to home.”
She said the tweet made her think about her personal safety.
Ms Townsend contacted police after receiving the message on her Facebook account last week, which she said was “threatening and violent and very specific”.
“I think the wider impact on democracy is if it puts someone off standing for office, and also has an impact on what you do and where you go. It hasn’t stopped us. We are still campaigning in that particular area.”
She said that speaking to friends it did seem like women came in for a nastier kind of abuse.
“The terms that are used and the kind of abuse seems to be particularly nasty. This message I received was like that. It was quite misogynistic.”
Steve Emmens, Norwich South UKIP candidate, said one of the female local council candidates for UKIP had received nasty and personal text messages questioning whether she should be standing this May.
He added: “UKIP is used to intimidation by other political groups who do not just damage our political signs, but our supporters’ properties and in some instances physically attack our members.”
Labour candidate Clive Lewis said he had had some hurtful and personal social media messages.
“I have noticed a lot of people feel they have the right to shoot you down. They think you have put yourself up there. But this is a small minority, The vast majority have been supportive. It is one of the potential negatives of what you do.”
Chloe Smith, Conservative candidate for Norwich North, was sent a package with white powder while she was an MP. “It turned out to be a hoax but not after considerable distress to my team in the office,” she said.
“Politicians may put themselves in the front line. But the team who work and volunteer for me have not.”
A Norfolk Police spokesman said: “Norfolk Constabulary have been made aware of the Facebook message and our officers are continuing with inquiries.” Anyone with further information is urged to contact PC Hollie Blaker on 101.
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