Belfast Telegraph

Stan Collymore Twitter abuse: Racist tweets from Dungannon being investigated by PSNI

By Claire Cromie and PA reporters

Racist tweets sent to former footballer Stan Collymore from a Twitter user in Dungannon are being investigated by police in Northern Ireland.

The ex-England striker has urged the social media site to do more to combat internet "trolls" after claiming racist and sexist messages are being posted by children as young as 10.

The Talksport radio pundit contacted Staffordshire Police on Tuesday night after receiving a string of racist tweets, including a death threat.

And the PSNI confirmed on Wednesday that they are among the police forces looking into the abusive comments.

One user sent Collymore a number of tweets containing racist insults, which named the location of the user as Dungannon.

Collymore posted screengrabs of the messages. The account has since been suspended.

Collymore, who played for Liverpool, Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest in the 1990s, claims Twitter is not doing enough to verify the age of users or prevent abusive tweets.

Appearing on BBC1's Breakfast programme, the former footballer said: "The age user range of Twitter has gone down dramatically.

"I am seeing gangs of kids from 10 to 18 goaded by adults to make racist and homophobic and sexist insults on Twitter, so Twitter need to deal with it. It's quite horrific.

"Today's my birthday and I would rather not be here but I am going to try to talk about this issue.

"Nothing seems to be done. Twitter are now hiding behind 'We don't discuss individual cases'."

The broadcaster, who has attracted more than 500,000 followers on Twitter over the past six years, received the latest in a long-running series of abusive messages after criticising Liverpool striker Luis Suarez following Saturday's match against Aston Villa.

The 43-year-old added: "I have no problem with people discussing factual things about me on Twitter.

"If it's illegal I reserve the right as a United Kingdom citizen to live within the laws of the United Kingdom and so should Twitter."

Asked how he responded to the abusive messages, Collymore said: "I retweet, I report, I block and if it is sufficiently threatening, I will go to the police.

"I have been on it (Twitter) for six years now and it's a fantastic tool to engage in my sport, football, with fans.

"If you disagree with a point that I make it's absolutely fine. But I shouldn't be racially abused for it, I shouldn't have somebody that tweets me two days ago saying I am going to turn up at your house and murder you."

Fellow broadcaster Piers Morgan was also subjected to abusive tweets after he joined calls for police and Twitter to take action over the abusive messages aimed at Collymore.

The former tabloid editor tweeted: "I repeat, racist abuse & death threats both criminal offences in UK. So keep spewing it, trolls, and I will have you ALL dealt with."

West Midlands Police confirmed on its Twitter page that Staffordshire Police were investigating "alleged abusive tweets to Stan Collymore" and urged people to block and report abuse at www.report-it.org.uk.

A Twitter spokeswoman said last night the company was unable to comment on individual users.

However she pointed out that targeted abuse was against its rules and the site had recently made it easier for users to report abusive messages to them.

There are "established processes" in place for working with law enforcement, the spokeswoman added.

A Staffordshire Police spokesman said: "We've been in contact with Mr Collymore to get more information and to reassure him that we will carry out a thorough and detailed investigation.

"Such behaviour is completely unacceptable and we all have a shared responsibility to treat each other with dignity and respect.

"It's our role to investigate complaints of criminal behaviour and, where appropriate, take action. When we become aware of complaints about potential criminal offences, we gather evidence to allow the Crown Prosecution Service to make a decision on whether to charge or not.

"Our investigation into previous alleged offences is continuing and we are currently liaising with Twitter to obtain subscriber details."

Your Comments

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph