Liverpool

Luciana Berger 'feared for safety over blogger's anti-Semitic abuse'

Luciana Berger Image copyright PA
Image caption Luciana Berger said an anti-Semitic campaign against her had been "all-consuming"

An MP "felt sick" and "very much under attack" when a man subjected her to "repulsive" anti-Semitic abuse online, a court has heard.

Joshua Bonehill-Payne posted five "hateful and insulting" articles about Liverpool Wavertree MP Luciana Berger in 2014 and 2015, the Old Bailey heard.

Ms Berger said the abuse had been part of a campaign which had "police patrolling outside my home and office".

Mr Bonehill-Payne, 23, denies racially aggravated harassment.

Giving evidence, Ms Berger said an image of her face superimposed on a rat included in the first post had been "troubling".

"I felt sick, really", she said. "It's attacking me for my faith or religion and not something I have said or done for my constituents."

She told the court Mr Bonehill-Payne's posts had been part of a wider campaign.

"The police were in constant contact with me. They were in my office and home.

"I have received, as an MP, anti-Semitism since I was elected. The scale and body during this period, combined with articles, I felt very much under attack. It was all-consuming," she said.

'Malicious communications'

The court also heard from Eve Byrne, Ms Berger's former assistant and advisor, who reported the posts to police.

She said she "couldn't really believe that someone who does not know Luciana could write these things about her".

"They were obviously very graphic and disturbing and it was really upsetting," she said.

Earlier, prosecutor Philip Stott told the court Mr Bonehill-Payne, of Yeovil, Somerset, had begun targeting Ms Berger after a man was jailed for four weeks in October 2014 for tweeting an offensive picture of the Labour MP.

Four of his articles were posted on a right-wing blog while a fifth appeared on his own website, and all made anti-Semitic remarks, the court heard.

The court also heard Mr Bonehill-Paine had admitted six charges of sending "malicious communications" and one of harassment over other posts on his blog and on Twitter in October 2014 and had been on bail awaiting sentence during the time he allegedly harassed Ms Berger.

He later received a suspended sentence for those offences.

The case continues.

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