Claudia Webbe: Boyfriend of MP may be called at conviction appeal

Claudia Webbe: Boyfriend of MP may be called at conviction appeal
Claudia Webbe with her partner Lester ThomasImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
Claudia Webbe previously told the court she was still with her partner Lester Thomas

The partner of an MP found guilty of harassment could be called to give evidence for the first time as she bids to overturn her conviction.

Claudia Webbe, former Labour MP for Leicester East, was in November.

A court heard she threatened a friend of her partner Lester Thomas with an acid attack as she was jealous of their relationship.

The appeal is expected to last two to three days at Southwark Crown Court.

Her trial at Westminster Magistrates' Court heard Webbe made several calls to Michelle Merritt between September 2018 and April 2020 in a campaign of harassment.

The court also heard how Webbe threatened to send naked images of Ms Merritt to her family, as well as a recording of a call in which Webbe is heard shouting "get out of my relationship".

Mr Thomas, a consultant at Crossrail and Chelsea Football Club scout, was not called as a witness at Webbe's trial, where she claimed she was the victim of "domestic abuse and coercive control".

She told the court she was "goaded and gaslighted" during a row, which resulted in police being called after a neighbour reported her screams.

But the couple arrived holding hands to court, where he sat in the public gallery throughout the trial.

'Require an explanation'

A review hearing on Friday ahead of the appeal against Webbe's conviction and sentence, set for 9 March, heard Mr Thomas may be called as a witness.

Prosecutor Susannah Stevens said the crown was "ready" for the appeal.

"At the magistrates' court, the defence did not call any defence witnesses," she said. "It may be that they will call Ms Webbe's partner Mr Thomas.

"If that is the case, in my submission it is likely to be three days.

"There is body-worn video and a number of recordings that relate to Mr Thomas, which were not used at the magistrates' court for the obvious reason he was not a witness.

"But if he is going to be called, there is a likelihood we will play the recordings in cross-examination."

Webbe, who is now represented by Helen Law, was also criticised by Judge Deborah Taylor for failing to comply with court orders, which were supposed to be responded to by 30 November.

The judge said: "I require an explanation of why the orders of the court have not been complied with."

Webbe was not required to be present in court for the hearing.

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