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Man jailed for harassing Labour MP Luciana Berger

Joshua Bonehill-Paine
Image caption Joshua Bonehill-Paine has previously described himself as "a rising star of the right-wing community" - although others have labelled him "moronic"

A man who subjected a Jewish MP to an online campaign of anti-Semitic abuse has been jailed for two years.

Joshua Bonehill-Paine, 24, wrote five hate-filled blogs about Luciana Berger in 2014.

Speaking earlier, the Liverpool Wavertree MP said she felt "unsafe" and was concerned that the far right is on the rise in the UK.

Bonehill-Paine was convicted of racially aggravated harassment at the Old Bailey on Wednesday.

'Gravely oppressive'

The judge told Bonehill-Paine he was responsible for a "cruel campaign of vile racist abuse" on his "obnoxious" online newspaper.

"This was gravely oppressive racially-aggravated harassment of the worst kind," Mr Justice Spencer said.

Speaking to the BBC's Victoria Derbyshire before the sentencing, Ms Berger said: "We're seeing it across Europe but we're seeing it in our country as well."

Government figures, she said, showed an increase in the number of people coming from a right-wing extremist ideology being referred to the government's counter-terrorism strategy Prevent programme.

"The concern is when that extremism also crosses the line into terrorism," Ms Berger said. "It also crosses the line into physical threats."

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Media captionLuciana Berger explains how difficult it was dealing with the abuse she faced

The Home Office has been contacted for comment.

In October, Wyre and Preston North MP Ben Wallace told Parliament that Prevent had had a growth in far-right referrals, adding: "In some areas of the country, these Prevent referrals outnumber those about the other parts we are worried about."

Bonehill-Paine, of Yeovil, Somerset, posted the articles, which called Ms Berger "an evil money-grabber" and claimed the number of Jewish Labour MPs was a "problem", after the jailing of fellow far-right extremist Garron Helm in October the same year.

Helm, then 21, from Merseyside, admitted sending a picture on Twitter depicting the MP with a holocaust-era Star of David on her forehead and the hashtag "Hitler was right".

The court heard Bonehill-Paine had a history of online abuse leaving a trail of devastation in the lives of those he chose to "pick a dispute" with.

Ms Berger said: "This isn't just someone having a go... I felt unsafe because some of the people involved in that campaign... it inspired others to post messages that told me to watch my back, referred to where I lived and made physical threats against me.

"As we've seen from the conviction, this is not tolerated in Britain and there are means and ways by which people will be held to account."

The judge also imposed a criminal behaviour order on Bonehill Paine, which carries a penalty of up to five years in jail, to curb his internet activities.

On release, the order gives police the power to monitor his online activities for the next five years.

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