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Dublin: 9 °C Tuesday 19 November, 2019

Man arrested after abusive tweets sent to UK bank note campaigner

Police said a 21-year-old man had been arrested “on suspicion of harassment offences”.

File photo from 24 July of Caroline Criado-Perez, co-founder of the Women's Room, who received Twitter threats
File photo from 24 July of Caroline Criado-Perez, co-founder of the Women's Room, who received Twitter threats
Image: Chris Ratcliffe/PA Wire

A MAN IN his early twenties has been arrested on suspicion of harassment offences after a bank note campaigner in the UK received a barrage of abusive tweets, including one threatening to rape her.

Police said in a statement:

A 21-year-old man has today been arrested in the Manchester area on suspicion of harassment offences. The arrest is in connection with an allegation of malicious communications received by officers in Camden on Thursday, 25 July.

Caroline Criado-Perez was bombarded with abusive messages after successfully lobbying for Pride and Prejudice author Jane Austen to replace Charles Darwin on Britain’s £10 notes from 2017.

She said the abusive tweets began to appear on Wednesday, the day the Bank of England (BoE) announced its decision. Yesterday, Criado-Perez tweeted that she was making a statement to the police on the issue:

Police said officers received an allegation of “malicious communications” after Criado-Perez reported she had received “about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours”.

She added that she had “stumbled into a nest of men who coordinate attacks on women”.

After the arrest was announced, Criado-Perez said to her supporters on Twitter:

Yvette Cooper MP,  Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary and Shadow Minister for Women and Equalities, wrote to the UK head of Twitter about the abuse suffered by Criado-Perez.

In her letter, she said she was “deeply concerned by the handling of serious and violent threats of abuse and rape” against Criado-Perez. She stated:

Yet despite the scale and seriousness of these threats, the official response from Twitter continues to be extremely weak – simply directing Caroline away from twitter towards the police, and, belatedly, directing users to abuse reporting forms on Twitter.

Cooper urged Twitter to carry out a full review of all its policies on abusive behaviour, threats and crimes, and to include more help for Twitter users who experience abuse. She called for “clear action from Twitter to tackle this kind of persecution”, and a clear complaints process.

An online petition was also set up calling for Twitter to introduce a “report abuse” button to tweets. So far, it has gained 53,198 supporters.

The Bank of England announced in April that the image of wartime prime minister Winston Churchill would be put on the £5 note from 2016, replacing the face of 19th century social reformer Elizabeth Fry.

This would have left Queen Elizabeth II, whose face is on every British coin and banknote, as the only woman. Austen is only the third female historical figure to win a place on a banknote since the policy was introduced in 1970.

The note featuring the image of Austen is expected to be issued within a year of the Churchill note.

L-R Mary Macleod, a Conservative member of parliament, Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, Stella Creasy, a Labour and Co-operative member of parliament, and Caroline Criado-Perez pose for a photograph following the presentation of the concept design for the new Bank of England ten pound banknote, featuring author Jane Austen. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

The Bank of England said on Wednesday that it had never been its intention to leave British banknotes without a single woman on them.

In July 2012, police in southwest England arrested a 17-year-old in connection with abusive tweets sent to Olympic diving star Tom Daley .

Read: Teenager arrested over Twitter abuse of Team GB star Tom Daley>

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