Wealden MP Nus Ghani calls for clampdown on stalking after her own experience

Nus Ghani complains to Southern over 'poor service' on Eridge and Crowborough line

WEALDEN MP Nus Ghani is calling for a new initiative to combat stalking after she was hounded for two years by an unknown tormentor.

The Conservative Transport Minister opened up about her ‘incredibly draining’ ordeal for the first time at the weekend, to highlight a campaign to stop stalking.

And she wants the likes of Twitter, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to play a role in the campaign.

Ms Ghani said a man with knowledge of her constituency, which contains Crowborough, Eridge and Frant among other towns, targeted her because she is of Pakistani descent and the first female Muslim minister in the Commons.

The man would follow the MP’s activity by studying articles online and in the local press, and would email those in contact with her to find out more information and promote conspiracy theories.

‘I’d have a meeting with a farmer, say, and that meeting might end up in the newspaper and that farmer would be contacted by the stalker,’ she told the Sunday Times. ‘People would get in touch with me and say, ‘this man emailed me asking lots of questions and I responded, before I realised he was a bit of a nutter’. I kept hearing this man’s [fake] name he was contacting everybody.’

Ms Ghani is now urging technology companies such as Twitter, Google, Facebook and Microsoft to play a greater role in combating stalking.

‘Social media companies and those that host IP addresses need to think about their platforms being used for crimes to take place,’ she told the newspaper.

‘They should also make data available to the police faster. Why does it take so long to locate an IP address?

‘In my case, the police decided to take action as the stalker began to make threats via emails and phone calls and we had to be alert to unpleasant post arriving at home.

‘But it took weeks for them to get the information they needed to locate the stalker.’

Ms Ghani’s ordeal began in 2015 when she was first elected as Wealden MP, but did not know what the man looked like, his name, or even if he was a man – which made her suspicious of those she came into contact with.

She explained: ‘It could have been anyone. It becomes incredibly emotionally draining because you don’t know what the threat is, when it will become physical, and you’re worried about everyone else you expose to this person.’

Last year police found the unnamed middle-aged man, who was not known to the MP. But the search for him took months, a period she described as ‘worst of all’.

Her call for tougher action follows BBC presenter Emily Maitlis talking about her experience of being stalked and Tory MP Sarah Wollaston tabling a Private Member’s Bill that would enable police to intervene earlier.

‘Online anonymity means perpetrators often simply get away with it,’ said Ms Ghani. ‘I have long believed the police need powers to intervene early to identify people.’

Speaking to the Times this week, she explained: ‘There are victims [of stalking], and a victim -statistically has 100 incidents before they come forward.

‘Social media may be part of our lives but it can create a barrier for the perpetrator to be anonymous.

‘We need to find a way to challenge perpetrators and I think social media companies need to help as much as possible.’

Ms Wollaston’s Private Member’s Bill is due to be read at the ‘report stage’ at the House of Commons on November 23.

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