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Man faces jail for harassing three Labour MPs

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image captionNicholas Nelson arriving at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday

Three Labour MPs were subjected to a campaign of harassment by a 31-year-old man who is now facing a possible jail sentence, a court has heard.

Nicholas Nelson, from North Walsham, Norfolk, appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

He has pleaded guilty to three counts of sending communications of an offensive nature, after repeatedly calling the serving MPs' offices.

Dame Margaret Hodge said she was branded a "racist Zionist" by Nelson.

In a statement from her read in court, the Labour MP said she was left "disturbed and shocked" by the "vitriol and implied threats" levelled at her because of her Jewish identity - including calling her a "disgusting scumbag".

Nelson also made calls to the offices of Dame Louise Ellman - who stood down as an MP in 2019 - and Lord John Mann, who now sits in the House of Lords.

Campaign of calls

The court heard how Nelson left a message at Dame Louise's office, calling her "hypocritical" and "a liar".

He also emailed the then-MP, accusing her of trying to smear the Labour leader at the time, Jeremy Corbyn, saying she should resign or kill herself.

Nelson also told one of Lord Mann's staff to kill themselves.

In the peer's statement read to the court, Lord Mann said: "I call out racism and anti-Semitism, but the abuse and threats of violence have led to my staff asking me not to do so."

Defending Nelson, Julian Young said his client had "undiagnosed psychiatric difficulties" at the time of the offences and his mental health issues were now being dealt with by medication and treatment.

He also said Nelson had instructed him to offer "a full apology to the three victims to the harm caused by his comments".

In a statement read out in court by prosecutor Simon Maughan, Dame Margaret said she was left feeling "disturbed" after being branded a "racist Zionist".

"I considered the emails to be threatening and was left feeling nervous and unsure about my safety. For the first time, I now feel under threat because of my Jewish identity," her statement said.

Mr Maughan said the offence against Dame Margaret, MP for Barking, east London, had been identified as a "hate crime".

Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot adjourned sentencing to 25 November.

Nelson was handed a suspended 20-week prison sentence in December 2018 after admitting harassing then-Labour MPs Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth, who are both Jewish, earlier in the year.