Men arrested over abuse sent to Angela Rayner thought to be unconnected

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Three men arrested after deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner was bombarded with threats are not thought to know each other, as the scale of abuse received by MPs was further exposed.

Police charged a man with malicious communications on Thursday after the prominent MP reported receiving numerous abusive and threatening phone calls, emails and letters in recent weeks.

Benjamin Iliffe, a 36-year-old from Cambridgeshire, was also due to appear in court charged with possession of cannabis, Greater Manchester Police said.

Officers investigating the communications received by the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne also arrested a 70-year-old in South Yorkshire and a 52-year-old in Halifax, West Yorkshire.

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Sources told the PA news agency that police do not at this stage have any reason to believe the three men are connected.

The oldest man was arrested on Thursday morning over abusive emails received by Ms Rayner, a mother-of-three, on October 16. He was subsequently bailed pending further enquires.

The 52-year-old, who has also been bailed, was arrested over abusive phone calls she received a day earlier.

Ms Rayner, who is on bereavement leave after losing a loved one, reported receiving the threatening contacts over a number of weeks.

After the first arrest, her spokesman said: “Abuse and threats of this nature don’t just have an impact on Angela but also on her family, her children and her staff who are on the receiving end of these communications.”

The investigation by at least three police forces comes amid increased concern over the safety of MPs and the level of abuse they receive following the killing of Sir David Amess.

The veteran Conservative MP for Southend West was stabbed in a suspected terror attack during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.

Iliffe, of Slade Way, Chatteris, was due to appear before Huntingdon Magistrates’ Court later on Thursday, officers said.

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