LONDON — A female Conservative MP said Thursday she had been subjected to a torrent of sexist, threatening Twitter abuse after voting against a select committee report strongly criticising Rupert Murdoch over the phone hacking scandal.
Louise Mensch, a member of the Commons culture, media and sport select committee, said a stream of "immoral and misogynistic" comments had been directed at her on the microblogging site, including threats of violence.
Mensch, who joined committee members launching the report on Tuesday, did not support its conclusion that Murdoch was "not a fit person" to run a major international company.
She was one of four Conservative MPs who voted against publication of the report, which accused Murdoch and his son James of "wilful blindness" over the hacking scandal at the News of the World.
One post on Twitter called Mensch a "stupid, feminist, conniving Tory", while another said "given half the chance, you'd strangle her". Most comments were too obscene to repeat.
Mensch hit out at those who made the comments Thursday, telling the BBC they were "bullies" who "think they can hide behind the anonymity of a screen name ... to throw racist abuse and sexist abuse".
She stressed it was "not Twitter's fault", adding: "It's the fault of the users, they have to be responsible for their own words and what they say."
The Tory MP for Corby said she had re-Tweeted some of the comments to draw attention to the abuse she claims women of all political persuasions receive daily through the site.
"Abuse directed at women is always sexual or violent," she told the BBC's Today programme.
"If somebody is considered attractive, it's a sexual and violent fantasy levelled against them. If someone is considered unattractive, it's personal remarks about their body.
"The stuff directed at me was not illegal, it was just immoral and misogynistic."
Cumbria Police Chief Constable Stuart Hyde, who has responsibility for e-crime in the Association of Chief Police Officers, called the abuse "sexist bigotry at its worse".
He said legislation existed which police could use to prosecute over such comments, warning Twitter users: "Whilst this is a social media it is also a media with responsibilities and if you're going to act illegally using social media expect to face the full consequences of the law."
Mensch is also a popular "chick lit" author, writing under her maiden name, Louise Bagshawe.
Her husband is the manager of rock bands including Metallica and Red Hot Chili Peppers.
Copyright © 2013 AFP. All rights reserved. More »