My policy on offensive correspondence and social media

There has recently been a marked increase in threats to MPs and their staff, aggressive, vexatious and gratuitously hurtful behaviour aimed at people in the public eye, ‘trolling’ and deliberate attempts to offend posted on social media platforms.

Some, perhaps responding to the coarsening behaviour of the UK’s media and a perception of the antics of politicians, seem to have taken the view that it is legitimate to use public people as punchbags. It is not. 

In my experience of calling out authors of unpleasant material, there is often insufficient appreciation that tolerance to even moderately offensive content has tightened or that actions have potentially serious consequences for them as well as their victims. 

I value courtesy and respect highly and endeavour at all times to treat others as I would wish to be treated, irrespective of their political beliefs. Consequently, I reserve the right to respond in a robust and uncompromising way to messages I or my staff interpret as rude, personally offensive or just plain nasty. This may mean messages do not receive a response beyond an automatic acknowledgement and that the sender is added to my social media blocked list.

Following recent cases involving other MPs, it is now my policy to refer immediately any material I am sent or otherwise become aware of that may fail a test of reasonableness to the police and/or other relevant authority, professional body or organisation.

Thank you.