Guilty: 'Disgruntled tenant' who harassed Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry

David Knott leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London

David Knott leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he was found guilty of harassment after sending hundreds of abusive and threatening emails to Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry - Credit: PA

A man has been found guilty of harassment after sending hundreds of abusive and threatening emails to Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry.

David Knott, 46, from Islington, had denied two counts of harassment against staff members of the Labour leader and his own MP in Islington South and Finsbury.

Knott, who represented himself, was accused sending an “excessive number of abusive emails” to them between December 2019 and February this year.

The court heard Knott, who was convicted at Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Thursday (September 2), often used profanities in his communication with the staff and threatened to protest outside their constituency offices multiple times.

His emails were related to an “ongoing casework matter” about housing.


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District Judge Alexander Jacobs said the emails went over a “line that must never be crossed”.

He told Knott: “I believe you are well aware your language was abusive and should not have been used.

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“Any reasonable person would have known the number of emails and the language used would have caused harassment.”

Jennifer Gatland, prosecuting, told the court that many of the emails were “rambling and incoherent”.

She said among the hundreds of emails sent, Knott had accused the staff members of “being incompetent to the point of illegality”.

David Knott leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London

David Knott leaves Westminster Magistrates' Court in London, where he was found guilty of harassment after sending hundreds of abusive and threatening emails to Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry - Credit: PA

Ms Gatland went on to read the witness statement of a member of Sir Keir’s staff, which said: “I found the language and tone of the emails distressing and they made me very concerned.

“The persistent threat of protest made me feel extremely anxious.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking in the House of Commons

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer speaking in the House of Commons - Credit: PA

A member of Ms Thornberry’s staff said in a witness statement: “I was very offended and distressed with the abusive language sent many times during a day.”

MP for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry 

MP for Islington South and Finsbury, Emily Thornberry - Credit: PA

The court heard that a cease and desist letter was sent to Knott – but the emails continued.

Knott told the court that he was trying to complain to the MPs about the condition of his former apartment in Camden – which left him and his late quadriplegic partner “sleepless for six months”.

He said that ongoing London Underground work had left the noise in the apartment “unbearable” and he was trying to warn the MPs to stop allowing tenants to live there.

Knott will be sentenced on October 1 at Westminster Magistrates’ Court.

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