Nicholas Nelson, 31, admitted to three charges of sending communications of an offensive nature in mid-2018. The communications were sent via telephone calls and e-mails to the Jewish women MPs Dame Margaret Hodge and Dame Louise Ellman, as well as Lord Mann, who was then a Labour MP and remains a prominent campaigner against antisemitism. All three Labour MPs were critics of Mr Corbyn.
Mr Nelson, who is from Norfolk, told Dame Margaret: “Margaret should f*** off, you f****** racist Zionist c***. You need to get out of the Party and I hope you die, you Tory c***.” In a telephone call on the same day, Mr Nelson reportedly added: “Margaret Hodge is an apartheid-supporting disgusting scumbag bitch.”
In a victim statement, the MP said: “I considered the emails to be threatening and was left feeling nervous and unsure about my personal safety. For the first time, I now feel under threat because of my Jewish identity.”
Dame Louise was told: “Louise Ellman is a hypocritical Tory c*** who is so thick she is trying to smear Corbyn with an event she herself attended.” Her Parliamentary assistant said that she felt “extremely uncomfortable and distressed” after reading an e-mail from Mr Nelson.
Lord Mann received a telephone message in September 2018 that said: “Kill yourself. When are you going to have a stroke?”
This conviction was not Mr Nelson’s first offence. In 2018, he was sentenced to twenty weeks in jail – suspended for a year – for harassing another two Jewish Labour MPs, Luciana Berger and Ruth Smeeth, both of whom were victims of significant levels of antisemitic abuse while in Parliament.
Westminster Magistrates’ Court’s Deputy Chief Magistrate, Tan Ikran, said: “I’m of the view that these offences are so serious that they cross the custody threshold. People should feel able to come forward and serve as MPs without fear of violence and threat. Certain communities have felt particularly under threat. And these courts will send a clear message to those who threaten members of those communities, who attack them because of their faith.”
However, while Mr Nelson was sentenced to 20 weeks in prison suspended for eighteen months, as well as a 30-day rehabilitation order, 240 hours of unpaid work and £200 in victim surcharge and costs, the magistrate said that if all the convictions had been sentenced at once, he would have sent Mr Nelson to jail, but “I have considered carefully whether I can suspend the sentences and I felt just about able to do so. That doesn’t take away the seriousness of the offences. That simply reflects we are now two years down the road, that there have been no further offences and that I see you are now seeking the assistance of a psychiatrist and dealing with issues you say were a feature of your life then.”
Mr Ikran said of Mr Nelson’s language that it is “the most vulgar, obscene, threatening vocabulary I can think of.” He added: “I took a very serious view in December 2018. I did so then and I do so now because there has been a significant increase in threats made to MPs – threats of violence, threats based on their faith and on race. It’s something I have not encountered previously, but over the last couple of years this has become commonplace.”
Mr Nelson’s counsel said that Mr Nelson is “ashamed of his conduct” and read a letter from the defendant saying: “I want to offer a full apology to Louise Ellman, Margaret Hodge and John Mann for the harm caused by my conduct.”
Campaign Against Antisemitism’s analysis of Home Office statistics shows that an average of over three hate crimes are directed at Jews every single day in England and Wales, with Jews almost four times more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other faith group.