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Two Brits face criminal trial for sending 'menacing' tweets

Proceedings to commence in January 2014, say prosecutors

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Two people have been charged with allegedly sending "menacing" tweets to a feminist campaigner.

John Nimmo, 25, of Moreland Road, South Shields and Isabella Sorley, 23, of Akinside House, Akinside Hill, Newcastle-upon-Tyne will both appear at Westminster Magistrates Court on 7 January, Scotland Yard said.

The two were charged with the same alleged offence under section 127 of the Communications Act 2003 - sending by means of a public electronic communications network messages which are menacing in character.

The penalties for breaching section 127 are a fine of up to £5,000 or six months in prison.

Nimmo was arrested on 30 July, while Sorley was cuffed by Met cops on 22 October.

The Met added that a 32-year-old man who was arrested in Bristol in August, and a 27-year-old man from York, have both been re-bailed until the middle of next month while investigations continue into allegations of threats made via Twitter.

Two other individuals who were arrested by police, including a 14-year old boy, face no further action.

Caroline Criado-Perez, who in the summer successfully campaigned for the face of novelist Jane Austen to appear on English banknotes, made a formal statement to police in July about being harassed online.

She went to the cops after being repeatedly sent threats of rape and violence. The abuse first appeared on the day the Bank of England confirmed that Austen's face would be printed on £10 notes, she claimed at the time.

Criado-Perez said she had "stumbled into a nest of men who co-ordinate attacks on women". At one point, the campaigner said she received 50 such messages an hour on Twitter over the space of a 12-hour period.

Labour MP Stella Creasy and a number of other female public figures with a presence on Twitter claimed during the summer months that they too had become the victims of vile abuse.

Creasy took her complaint to police, after she received death threats sent from anonymous accounts on the micro-blogging site.

The Crown Prosecution Service said today that it had reviewed the cases relating to five suspects, based on the guidelines on social media laid out by the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Keir Starmer.

The CPS agreed that charges should be brought against Sorley and Nimmo in relation to allegedly abusing Criado-Perez on Twitter.

But chief Crown prosecutor Baljit Ubhey said that while the CPS had determined that messages sent to Creasy by at least one suspect fell under section 127, "it would not be in the public interest to prosecute, having applied the Director's guidelines and having particular regard to the young age and personal circumstances" of the suspect alleged to have tweeted abuse at Creasy.

Ubhey added: "May I remind all concerned that criminal proceedings against both defendants will now be commenced and that both have a right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."

Creasy and Criado-Perez were informed of the CPS decisions, Ubhey said. ®

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