8 Aug 2013

Man held in Bristol over Twitter abuse against women

A 32-year-old man is arrested in Bristol in connection with the torrent of violent abuse aimed at Labour MP Stella Creasy and feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez on Twitter.

Stella Creasy MP and Caroline Criado-Perez pose for a photo with the concept design for the new 10 pound note, featuring novelist Jane Austen (R)

The suspect is the third person suspected of offences against two women, understood to be Ms Creasy (above left) and Ms Criado-Perez (above right), reported on 25 and 29 July.

He will be questioned at a local police station on suspicion of committing an offence under the Protection from Harassment Act.

The arrest is part of Scotland Yard’s e-crime unit’s investigation into the aggressive stream of messages, which included threats of rape and bomb threats, made by eight people on the site.

The torrent of abuse prompted calls for Twitter to introduce better methods for dealing with abuse. More than 120,000 people have signed a petition urging Twitter to implement tighter processes to protect its users and many high profile Twitter users boycotted the site for a day in protest at “trolling” or online bullying behaviour.

Twitter’s UK boss has apologised to women for any abuse they have experienced and the site said it is planning to make reporting abuse easier by bringing a “report abuse” function.

Threats aimed at women

Ms Criado Perez, who successfully fought for a woman’s face to appear on £10 banknotes, spoke out against the attacks after she was targeted online last month.

Walthamstow MP Ms Creasy drew a similar tirade of sexually aggressive messages after she offered her support of the campaigner.

A number of female journalists later came forward to report a series of rape and bomb threats.

They were allegedly sent to Guardian columnist Hadley Freeman, Independent writer Grace Dent and Europe editor of Time magazine Catherine Mayer. Similar messages were also sent to Sara Lang, a social media manager at US campaign group AARP.

A Scotland Yard spokesman said: “He was arrested at an address in Bristol by officers from the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) Police Central eCrime Unit as part of an ongoing investigation into allegations relating to threats made on Twitter.

“The man will be taken to a Bristol police station. He has been arrested in connection with allegations made to police by two women, who made reports to police on July 25 and 29.”