Welwyn Hatfield Labour leader defends himself in celebrity Twitter row

PUBLISHED: 12:31 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:39 13 September 2018

Kieran Thorpe, Labour

Kieran Thorpe, Labour

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The leader of Welwyn Hatfield Labour has caught the ire of an EastEnders actress who had been tweeting about perceived antisemitism from party supporters.

Councillor Kieran Thorpe tweeted on Tuesday in response to comedian Chris Addison, who had retweeted a statement by actress Tracy Ann Oberman.

Cllr Thorpe’s tweet appeared to criticise Ms Oberman.

Ms Oberman, best known for playing the character who killed Dirty Den in EastEnders, had tweeted in response to the news that pro-Labour campaigners Momentum had invited a controversial activist to an upcoming event.

“I’m crying in the car, I am so so so upset by the fact that a) I have to post this stuff b) @UKLabour members feel they can justify it & belittle my feelings,” said Oberman in the tweet. “My great uncle was the only survivor of our family in #WarsawGhetto. I loved him. And @PeoplesMomentum disrespect this.”

Picture: TwitterPicture: Twitter

The invited activist in question, Ewa Jasiewicz, had sprayed pro-Palestinian graffiti on the walls of the Warsaw Ghetto.

Chris Addison’s retweet said: “F*** every single person spewing abuse at Tracy.”

To which Cllr Thorpe replied: “Aka person who spends inordinate amount of time criticising people on twitter gets upset at being criticised.

“Rinse and repeat.”

Picture: TwitterPicture: Twitter

This caught the attention of the actress, who screenshotted Cllr Thorpe’s profile and retweeted it, claiming she was going to “report him”.

As of Thursday, September 13, a spokesperson for the Labour party said it was not aware of any complaints being received by the patry’s complaints team.

Ms Oberman then tagged him in another tweet, to which he replied: “I have not sent you anything abusive at all. Please don’t tie me in with anyone using this site to peddle horrific views or attacks on you.”

Speaking to the newspaper this morning, Cllr Thorpe said he had subsequently been the victim of “an orchestrated attack” in which his personal details had been released on social media.

Cllr Kieran ThorpeCllr Kieran Thorpe

He defended his comments and appeared to suggest he would be leaving Twitter.

Since the conversation he has changed his account status to ‘protected’.

When asked what his views on Ewa Jasiewicz’s protest graffiti, that had upset Ms Oberman so much, he said he didn’t know anything about this, and clarified that he is not a member of Momentum.

Asked how he felt about the antisemitism row currently under way in political circles, he said “It makes me sad.”

He continued: “I have clearly said nothing offensive to anyone.”

“In return, I have been the victim of an orchestrated attack including my personal details, address, employment and phone number being splashed across social media.

“There was no attempt to speak to me directly but I am not surprised that people who behave poorly to others have preferred to behave similarly to me.

“I am thankful for the hundreds of messages of support, but Twitter has rapidly become the sewer that modern political discourse festers in.

“I see the appalling abuse fired daily at politicians of all colours, and the mob mentality that leads to incredibly distressing attacks on people is a growing disgrace to society.

“This is clearly no way to have a debate about issues that matter.

“This episode has simply confirmed that it’s time to flush myself on to friendlier online pastures and concentrate more on the things that matter in life.”

The Welwyn Hatfield Times has reached out to Ms Oberman for comment.

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