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Cheshire man sentenced for sending offensive email to Labour MP

|News, Cyber / online crime

A 70-year-old man from Warrington has been sentenced for sending an offensive message to the Labour MP for Brent Central, Dawn Butler.

Stephen Brotherton was charged under S127 of the Communications Act 2003. The charge stated that on 7 June 2020, he sent to Dawn Butler, by means of an electronic network, a message that was grossly offensive, or of an indecent or obscene character.

An assistant at the MP’s office spotted the email in her inbox and passed it to the police. It was traced to Brotherton’s email account.

Brotherton had used racist and misogynistic language to criticise the MP’s involvement in the Black Lives Matters protests that followed the murder of George Floyd by a police officer in America.

On 17 August 2021 at Warrington Magistrates’ Court, Brotherton pleaded guilty to the charge and was given a six-week jail term, suspended for 12 months. He was also ordered to pay £85 costs and a £128 victim surcharge within 7 days.

Laura Tipping, District Crown Prosecutor of CPS Mersey Cheshire said: "The email sent by Steven Brotherton that day was racist and misogynistic. His comments have no place in a civilised society and were grossly offensive.

"He implied that Dawn Butler could not do her job as an MP because she was a woman and because she was black.

"The bar for authorising a charge of this nature is high as it must take in to account that everybody has the right to, “Freedom of Expression” protected under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The wording of the communication must be shown to meet the criteria of the offence before a charge is authorised.

"The CPS took the view that it did meet the criteria and authorised Cheshire Police to charge Mr Brotherton. He has now pleaded guilty to that offence and has been sentenced.

"The public should know that they cannot simply send communications that break the law without repercussions. Online communications can be traced and people breaking the law will be brought to justice."

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