John Nicolson, the SNP’s culture spokesman and MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, has revealed historic “abuse” he received on social media from the LGB Alliance group – and people he says are its backers – has now been passed to the House of Commons security team.
The referral comes after the messages were seen by Speaker Sir Linsday Hoyle, who has heightened security for all elected representatives following the death of Sir David last month.
The social media posts in question were sent to Mr Nicolson by the LGB Alliance account, which says it advocates for the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals.
The Speaker wrote in the Observer last month “the quality of political discourse has to change” in the wake of Sir David’s death. A 25-year-old man has been charged in connection with the killing at Sir David’s constituency surgery.
Sir Lindsay wrote: “If anything positive is to come out of this latest awful tragedy, it is that the quality of political discourse has to change.
“This incident has shown that there is unity across the political divide in support of democracy. The hate which drives these attacks has to end.”
The Speaker’s reported referral of tweets and material sent to Mr Nicolson by the group also comes as home secretary Priti Patel ordered police forces to review security arrangements.
Mr Nicolson, a gay MP and member of the Joint Committee on the Draft Online Safety Bill currently scrutinising the UK Government’s proposals to reduce harmful content, hate speech and harassment online, said he had been “trolled consistently” by the LGB Alliance on Twitter, with supporters branding him a “rape-enabling politician”.
Formed in 2019 in opposition to the charity Stonewall’s support for full transgender rights in the UK, LGB Alliance is an organisation that aims to “advance the rights of lesbians, gays and bisexuals”. This is more limited than the broader LGBTQI+ umbrella, which includes those identifying as transgender, queer, intersex, asexual and more. Mr Nicolson said: “MPs get used to online abuse. But the bile directed at me by this group – the so-called LGB Alliance – was especially vile."
He claims the group “encouraged donations in my name and rewarded abuse with retweets” when the LGB Alliance issued a call for donations to followers on its Twitter account in April last year.
On April 21 last year, LGB Alliance tweeted: “To everyone who is annoyed by the defamatory remarks made about us by the MP (really!) @MrJohnNicolson, who clearly doesn’t have a clue who we are or what we do: please make a donation to us IN HIS NAME and we will tweet out your message.” #FactsNotLies”
A number of donations made to the group’s JustGiving page were later refunded to individuals who left donations and comments impersonating Mr Nicolson, before the platform closed down the group’s fundraising page completely, citing a violation of its platform guidelines.
Another large fundraising platform, GoFundMe, also later removed the group’s fundraising page from its platform, citing similar reasons for its removal.
The LGB Alliance shared some of the comments left with donations on its fundraising pages on its Twitter account which called Mr Nicolson a ‘misogynist’, ‘homophobe’ and ‘rape-enabling politician’.
Mr Nicolson added: "One of their founders has tweeted about me obsessively for more than a year.
"All of this seems to have been triggered by my support for a young trans constituent who appeared in a BBC documentary.”
Mr Nicolson added: “The Speaker has referred this abuse and obsessive behaviour to the Commons security team. And I appreciate his concern.”
A spokesperson for the House of Commons Press Office said while they cannot comment on individual cases, “abuse and intimidation of MPs is unacceptable, whether online or in person”.
"We work closely with partners, including social media companies, as part of a range of security measures for members and their staff,” the spokesperson said.
"For reasons of security we cannot comment in detail.”
Kate Harris, co-founder and director of LGB Alliance, said: "Mr Nicolson’s obsession with LGB Alliance is well known. It even featured recently in a BBC podcast where he was accused of misrepresenting us to Ofcom during a Select Committee meeting.
"It is, however, shocking for Mr Nicolson to undermine the important issue of the safety of elected representatives by repeating ludicrous lies about us.
"For the last two years we’ve been complaining to the SNP, the DCMS committee on which Mr Nicolson serves and to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner about his continual campaign of disparagement and misrepresentation of us which we believe brings the House of Commons into disrepute.
“We are therefore delighted to have this opportunity to present a considerable file of evidence we have accumulated about Mr Nicolson’s disturbing behaviour."