Brexiteer standing against Anna Soubry banned from constituency after harassment verdict

Anna Soubry outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA.

Anna Soubry outside the Houses of Parliament in London. Photograph: Yui Mok/PA. - Credit: PA Wire/PA Images

A Brexiteer who is standing against leading Remainer Anna Soubry in the general election has been banned from campaigning in her constituency after being found guilty of harassment.

Amy Beth Dalla Mura gestures as she leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court. Photograph: Dominic Lipin

Amy Beth Dalla Mura gestures as she leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire. - Credit: PA

Amy Dalla Mura, 56, targeted Soubry between January and March this year, turning up at events and calling her a traitor on live television, Westminster Magistrates' Court heard.

Soubry and Dalla Mura are standing in Broxtowe in Nottinghamshire, with Soubry the Independent Group for Change candidate and Dalla Mura running for the English Democrats.

The court heard that on January 23, Dalla Mura, from Hove, attended an event in parliament where Ms Soubry was speaking, repeatedly interrupting her and live streaming the event on her phone. The meeting was eventually abandoned when she refused to stop.

Passing verdict, Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot said Dalla Mura "knew that she had done something wrong and thought that she had got away with it".

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Describing Dalla Mura's behaviour as "oppressive and unacceptable", the magistrate said her conduct was "driven by anger at Ms Soubry's political views on Brexit" and that she had "caused harassment in the sense of alarm and distress".

Former Tory minister Soubry became a target for abuse after vocally opposing Brexit. She quit the Tories in February over the issue.

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Dalla Mura, who refused to give her name and address when asked in court, was ordered to stay away from the Broxtowe constituency as a condition of her bail and told she must conduct her election campaign from elsewhere and over the internet.

The magistrate said she was free to criticise other parties' policies, but must not mention Soubry by name in her electioneering.

n addition to the January incident, the court heard that on March 14 Dalla Mura approached Soubry in parliament's central lobby while she was appearing on the BBC's Newsnight, calling her a "traitor" while again filming her.

Presenter Nicholas Watt said Dalla Mura "looked troubled, very anxious and angry.

"Anna Soubry looked very alarmed by this very hostile presence."

A week later, Dalla Mura tried to intercept the MP in Westminster, saying she wanted to "have a word", but did not manage to find her.

Della Mura is not the first person to appear in court for harassing the Independent Group for Change candidate.

Last week, a man who sent her a "sickening" note suggesting she would be murdered like Jo Cox was jailed for 12 months after admitting sending a letter conveying a threatening message.

Alden Bryce Barlow, 55, from Doncaster, sent the post, which read "COX WAS FIRST YOU ARE NEXT" to the MP last month.

In July, so-called Yellow Vest protester, James Goddard, pleaded guilty to calling Soubry a "Nazi".

He avoided jail and was given an eight-week sentence, suspended for a year after he admitted using disorderly behaviour with the intention of causing harassment, alarm or distress.

Soubry told the PA news agency after the court case: "The reason we've seen a rise in threats is because society is so divided."

She added: "The problems I've had are because of my views on Brexit."

She said parts of the media had "actively stoked it up" with language and headlines such as "talking about draining the swamp".

She added she believed "that's what the prime minister did when he dismissed female MPs who had faced threats" when he used the word "humbug".

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