Twitter user, 66, is cleared of harassing local Labour MP Julie Elliott by repeatedly posting term ‘hang the old hag’ after judge said remarks were ‘not menacing’ in the context used
- Series of allegations made against Len Lowther, of Marine Walk, Sunderland
- Police found messages in which he asked people to repeat ‘hang the old hag’
- But Judge Kate Meek not satisfied he repeatedly published menacing message
- Mr Lowther’s actions led Ms Elliott to take a number of extra safety measures
A Twitter user has been cleared of harassing his local MP by repeatedly posting the term ‘hang the old hag’ after a judge said the remarks were ‘not menacing’ in the context used.
Len Lowther, 66, was alleged to have repeatedly published a menacing message in relation to Labour’s Julie Elliott, who represents Sunderland Central, and to have constantly contacted her via the social media site.
It was also alleged he claimed she was guilty of perverting the course of justice and accused her of using Northumbria Police as a personal police force – all on more than one occasion.
Mr Lowther, of Marine Walk, Sunderland, was arrested on September 20, 2018, and the police seized a number of devices from his home including a mobile phone.
On examination of his devices, the court heard police found messages on Facebook messenger which asked people to repeat the phrase ‘Hang the old hag’.
However, District Judge Kate Meek said she was not satisfied that Mr Lowther repeatedly published a menacing message.
Len Lowther, 66, was alleged to have repeatedly published a menacing message in relation to Labour’s Julie Elliott, who represents Sunderland Central, and to have constantly contacted her via the social media site
She said: ‘He did repeatedly use the phrase or words ‘hang the old hag’ in Twitter and Facebook communications that he accepted he was responsible for.
‘They were not menacing in the context of how he used them.’
Ms Elliott told the trial Mr Lowther’s actions led her to take extra safety measures and wouldn’t walk in the city centre alone.
However, Judge Meek said she was not satisfied that the fears of Ms Elliott, and her office manager Graham March, were directly attributable to Mr Lowther.
She said she was not satisfied ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Mr Lowther’s actions constituted harassment.
But in her closing remarks the judge warned Mr Lowther to be more considered in his use of social media.
She added: ‘He is arguably much more aware of the impact Ms Elliott MP considers his and others’ activities of a similar nature have had on her, her staff and her family.
‘Presumably he is now more alert to the argument that others may in some way be encouraged or fortified to act in response to his communications in a way that may also have adverse consequences.
‘At the very least there is something to be said about responsible use of social media and I hope Mr Lowther gives that some consideration.’