Labour MP’s online abuser admits also targeting Corbyn and Javid, court hears

Rushanara Ali. Pic: UK Parliament

A man who terrorised Bethnal Green and Bow MP Rushanara Ali with an 18-month flood of violent and racist messages has admitted sending similar threats to other leading politicians, it emerged today.

Snaresbrook Crown Court heard that Hussain Sha, 41, of Bethnal Green sent threatening and “grossly offensive” emails to former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, former Home Secretary and Chancellor Sajid Javid and Labour MP for Dulwich and West Norwood Helen Hayes, as well as Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs. The emails were sent between February and September last year.

The defendant admitted three counts of sending electronic communications with intent to cause distress or anxiety. It adds to his previous guilty plea to charges including racially and religiously aggravated harassment. 

Sha admited the offences at a sentencing hearing relating to the offences involving Ali. The court heard last week that Ali had lived “in a constant state of fear” due to the barrage of abusive texts and emails from her constituent.

Judge Martyn Zeidman adjourned the hearing again until February next year and ordered a second psychiatric report to determine if Sha should be sent to hospital instead of prison. It will also look at whether he poses a threat to MPs in the future. The judge said he expects to bar Sha from contacting any MP, even his own, for at least 10 years.

He told the defendant: “My primary duty is to protect the public and MPs, who are doing a difficult job. The Court will not tolerate abuse towards them.”

In a letter addressed to Ali, the defendant offered his “sincere regret” for his actions and poor mental health and said: “we need people like you in our community”.

Last week, the court heard the 290 messages Sha sent to Ali between April 2018 and December 2019 included a threat to “do her Jo Cox-style”.  Sha also threatened to blow up the Labour MP’s office. Other messages referenced her Bengali heritage and Muslim faith. 

It is not the first time Ali has faced racial harassment and intimidation. In 2018, she and other public figures received a ‘Punish a Muslim’ letter containing a red liquid. She told the Guardian last year: “When these things happen, it’s hugely disruptive in all sorts of ways and all you want to do is just put it behind you and get on with the job but, equally, I feel we need to speak out about these threats.”

Leave a Reply