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Labour MP Deluged With "25,000 Pieces Of Abuse From Corbyn Supporters"

Ruth Smeeth said: "He should be naming and shaming some of the worst perpetrators who are doing it in his name."

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A Jewish Labour MP has said she was deluged by 25,000 pieces of abuse by supporters of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.

Ruth Smeeth told on Friday how she received the "vile" and "disgusting" messages soon after fleeing the launch of Labour's report into anti-Semitism in June.

She is now under special protection from the police after receiving a threat on Facebook to hang her from the gallows.

Smeeth said the abuse was being carried out in Corbyn's name and criticised him for apparently saying people should ignore such messages. She called on the Labour leader to not just condemn the abuse, but name and shame the worst perpetrators.

A spokesperson for Corbyn told BuzzFeed News he had now contacted her to "express his outrage at the abuse and threats directed against her".

Smeeth, who was elected MP for Stoke on Trent North last year, told BBC News' Victoria Derbyshire show: "Since the end of June I've received somewhere in the region of 25,000 pieces of abuse.

"I got 20,000 pieces of abuse within 12 hours – and once it starts on social media it keeps going. Most of it was on social media, some of it was on Twitter, a great deal on Facebook and then calls to my office and emails."

She said the threat to hang her had been passed to counter-terrorism police some weeks ago, saying it was "one of the worst" messages she had received although "not *the* worst".

"It's vile, it's disgusting, and it's done in the name of the leader of the Labour party which makes it even worse," she said. "I know that Jeremy Corbyn would condemn this but it's not about condemning, it's about what people are doing in his name and what is now seemingly acceptable."

Smeeth, a prominent anti-racism campaigner, said the abuse started when she walked out of the launch of Labour's anti-Semitism report in tears after being verbally attacked by a Momentum activist and Corbyn supporter.

She said at the time he had used "traditional anti-Semitic slurs to attack me for being part of a 'media conspiracy'".

Smeeth said on Friday: "I did what you're always meant to do, I turned the other cheek and walked away. After that moment, the world's gone crazy.

"And it shouldn't be that MPs like myself, other Jewish MPs, other female MPs – and it has been the women who have taken the brunt of this – should have to just sit back and ignore it.

"Jeremy Corbyn was clear apparently that while he condemned it, we should ignore the abuse – [but] threats detailing how someone wants to hang me and what they want to do to me, that is not something that I nor the police can ignore."

Corbyn told The Observer last month: "The best way of dealing with abuse is: ignore it."

Smeeth warned: "This is being done in his name. He should be naming and shaming some of the worst perpetrators who are doing it in his name and making it clear publicly that they do not speak for him, that this is unacceptable.

"There is a vile amount of racism and intolerance and abuse online which feeds onto our streets and leads to a culture of intolerance that he could actually personally do something about – and that's what I'm asking him to do."

A spokesperson for Corbyn issued a statement soon after Smeeth's interview on Friday stating that "no abuse is carried out in Jeremy's name".

But later they issued an updated statement, saying that Corbyn had personally contacted Smeeth to express his "outrage" over the abuse she had suffered.

"Jeremy has consistently spoken out against all forms of anti-Semitism and has contacted Ruth Smeeth to express his outrage at the abuse and threats directed against her," the spokesperson said.

"Jeremy condemns all abuse, and no one responsible for it is a genuine supporter of Jeremy's. He has repeatedly called for a kinder, gentler politics.

"This is why he launched 'Respect and Unity', a code of conduct calling on all Labour members and supporters to conduct themselves with a high standard of behaviour. Evidence of threats and abuse should be reported to the party and police so that action may be taken against those responsible."

Emily Ashton is a senior political correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Emily Ashton at emily.ashton@buzzfeed.com.

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