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Case of man accused of abusing MPs sent to crown court

Ryan Hooper, PA
·2-min read

A man accused of sending abusive emails to a number of current and former MPs has had his case sent to the crown court.

Paul William Maciver Ritchie appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court by video-link on Thursday for a brief administrative hearing.

The 34-year-old, fron Dolphinton in Lanarkshire, is accused of 28 counts of sending a letter, communication or article conveying a threatening message against a series of politicians.

Alleged victims included former Commons Speaker John Bercow, former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC, ex-Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson, former home secretary Amber Rudd, one-time London mayoral candidate and Cabinet minister Rory Stewart, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, and current Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey.

Ritchie, wearing a light shirt, did not enter any pleas during the 12-minute hearing.

He spoke to state his name, address and date of birth, and to confirm that Conservative former Cabinet minister David Mundell is his local MP. Mr Mundell is not one of the alleged victims.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram said the matter will be dealt with at Southwark Crown Court in London on March 25.

Jeremy Corbyn legal action
Paul Ritchie is alleged to have sent Jeremy Corbyn a message telling him he should be ‘hung for treason’ (Hollie Adams/PA)

Court documents show Ritchie is accused of sending former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn an email in March 2019 containing the message “You should be hung for treason you f****** terrorist”.

The same month he sent an email to the Speaker’s office, saying “1 in 17 million is bad odds for some nutter to pull a Jo Cox on you and your staff”, the indictment said, and a week later added in another email: “Be careful… (y)ou wouldn’t want to get run over”.

In other messages to Mr Bercow’s office, Ritchie is alleged to have threatened: “I’m going to milkshake you, you prick”, and made references to Brexit and democracy.

In an email on May 2019 to former politician Chuka Umunna, who represented several parties, Ritchie is alleged to have written: “You have been warned… shut your f****** mouth boy”.

In July that year, he is said to have followed up with: “If you kill brexit… (w)e will kill you and your entire family.”

And he allegedly told Mr Stewart in June 2019: “If you block Brexit… you like likely (sic) be assassinated.”

Court documents allege Ritchie told Ms Swinson she deserved to be hung, and claimed to Ms Rudd that she was “definitely going to be assassinated”.

In a couple of messages to Mr Blackford the same month, court documents say Ritchie sent the threats “I hope you die” and “I dare you to come to the pub in Westminster and say some of the shit you do in the house”.

He was released on bail.