Luciana Berger urges online abuse victims to come forward

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Luciana Berger urges online abuse victims to come forward

The Jewish MP called for others to stand up to bullies on the internet, following the conviction of serial racist troll Joshua Bonehill-Paine

Labour MP Luciana Berger speaks outside the Old Bailey in London (Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)
Labour MP Luciana Berger speaks outside the Old Bailey in London (Photo credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Wire)

MP Luciana Berger called for more victims to stand up to online bullies after a serial troll was found guilty of harassing her in a string of anti-Jewish rants.

Joshua Bonehill-Paine, who turned 24 on Wednesday, wrote five hate-filled blogs about the Labour MP for Liverpool Wavertree after fellow far-right extremist Garron Helm was sent to prison for four weeks in October 2014.

The jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for just over one hour and 15 minutes before finding Bonehill-Paine guilty of racially-aggravated harassment.

The defendant, who smirked in the dock as he was sent down, faces up to two years in jail when he is sentenced on Thursday.

Bonehill-Paine became known to the Jewish community for organising an anti-Jewification rally in Golders Green in 2014. The jury at the Old Bailey heard how, while on bail, he wrote five blogs about Berger in the four months after fellow far-right activists Garron Helm was jailed in October 2014. He blamed the MP for Liverpool Wavertree for Helm’s sentencing, claiming she was an “evil money-grabber” and comparing her with a rodent.

Afterwards, Ms Berger said the conviction should send a “strong signal” that no-one need “suffer in silence”.

She said: “Together we can show that they are not, nor will they ever be, tolerated.”

Outside court, Ms Berger told reporters: “Every day up and down our country, people suffer harassment and racial abuse.

“Today’s verdict demonstrates that under British law, those who perpetrate these horrific crimes can and will be brought to justice; and it recognises that the British values of equality, tolerance and mutual respect that we hold dear apply as much on the internet as they do offline.”

She added: “If any good can come from this awful experience, I hope that it will send a strong signal to anyone experiencing harassment – you do not have to suffer in silence.

“I’d encourage everyone to report these crimes. Together we can show that they are not, nor will they ever be, tolerated.”

Bonehill-Paine’s conviction came days after neo-Nazi Thomas Mair, 53, was handed a whole life term at the same court for the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox.

Reacting to the verdict, the Community Security Trust said: “We applaud [Berger’s] courage in reporting his abuse and giving evidence against him. This conviction sends a strong signal that online hate will be prosecuted.”

Stephen Silverman from Campaign Against Antisemitism said: “He abused her with many well-worn anti-Semitic tropes, including the Jew as Christ killer, the Jew as sexually deviant, the Jew as vermin and the Jew as a grasping money-grabber. This verdict should stand as a warning.”

Earlier this year, internet troll John Nimmo, 28, from South Shields, was convicted of making a death threat against Ms Berger by saying she would ”get it like Jo Cox”.

In his first email of July 6, he told Ms Berger: ”Justice for Joshua Bonehill-Paine will be sweet, he has friends everywhere. Watch your back Jewish scum, regards your friend the Nazi.”

He then followed it up two days later with ”You will get it like Jo Cox did, you better watch your back Jewish scum’,’ just as Ms Berger was leaving her office in the early evening.

Nimmo was previously jailed in 2014 for eight weeks for sending abusive messages on Twitter to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez and Walthamstow Labour MP Stella Creasy.ends

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