Twitter abuse row: Police investigate rape threats against Labour MP

Police are investigating a series of violent and threatening messages to Labour MP Stella Creasy, after she was targeted by 'trolls' following her support for feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.

The Walthamstow MP received several messages detailing graphic sexual violence from a user calling themselves @killcreasynow last night, which she retweeted.

The account was suspended after about 30 minutes, when another account entitled @eatcreasynow was set up, seemingly by the same user.

The user also delivered threats to kill Tory MP Claire Perry, who has been a leading campaigner against online pornography.

"Officers in Waltham Forest received an allegation of malicious communications from an MP. The allegation relates to comments made on Twitter and is currently under consideration," Scotland Yard said.

Unconfirmed reports today suggested the culture, media and sport committee would call on Twitter to send a representative to parliament to answer questions about its policy.

Sources at the committee said no formal decision on who to call could be made until it reconvenes in September.

The police investigation is the latest development in an ugly row which has highlighted the abuse and threats directed at women on Twitter.

It began when Criado-Perez won her campaign to have Jane Austin feature on £10 bank notes, only to be sent a stream of misogynistic abuse on Twitter.

"It has consumed my life both physically and emotionally. I've not really had much sleep," she told Newsnight last night.

"The threats have been so explicit and so graphic that they've sort of stuck with me in my head and have really put me in fear, I realised.

"I would like to say I think they are completely pathetic. If they think they are going to drive me or any other woman off the internet they are going to be sorely disappointed."

Prominent female commentators online are planning a one day boycott of Twitter in early August, in a bid to force the social media site to take a more proactive approach to abuse.

The firm did not appear on Newsnight last night and has failed to put out a substantive statement on the row since it emerged over the weekend.

"I can't begin to imagine why [they have not come on Newsnight], either from a decent human being perspective or just from a PR perspective," Criado-Perez said.

"I would imagine Twitter is pretty embarrassed about that."

Yesterday's threats against Creasy give an indication of how difficult it is for the site to tackle abuse while not setting up onerous conditions for Twitter use.

The 'troll' responsible for the first account was able to create a new one in minutes and link it to a temporary email account set up in roughly the same amount of time.

Some have suggested Twitter demand greater identification from users or a small fee.

Others want a 'report abuse' button tweets. Twitter said the function is already available on its mobile app and will be soon be coming to desktops.

Culturally, the row already seems to be having an effect on how 'trolls' are treated online.

Yesterday, TV historian Mary Beard received an apology from one man after threatening to send his abusive messages to his mother. The incident was celebrated on Twitter and widely reported.

A 21-year-old man has been arrested in Manchester for sending abusive threats to Criado-Perez and has been bailed until mid-September