Vile internet troll unmasked after abusive tweets to MP

Labour MP John Woodcock was subject to some of the abuse from the Twitter account
Labour MP John Woodcock was subject to some of the abuse from the Twitter account

AN MP has revealed why he called in Lancashire Police to catch a “vile” internet troll who sent him abuse via Twitter.

John Woodcock said he feared for himself and his family after receiving comments from an account which officers traced to Penwortham.

Greg Taylor, a senior official in the Mayor of London’s office, was cautioned by Lancashire Police yesterday in connection with the tweets and has resigned from his job.

Mr Taylor was quizzed by officers in Preston over the online abuse directed at Mr Woodcock, other MPs and a senior journalist at the LEP.

The 35-year-old former Stonyhurst College student quit his job as principal government relations officer in Sadiq Khan’s office following the police investigation.

Mr Woodcock, Labour MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “I’d been getting abuse from this account for a while but when (MP) Jo Cox died, I felt I should report it to the police.

“He had mentioned my children in some of the vile abuse and you never know who is behind these accounts.

“Mr Taylor seemed obsessed with the word beginning with ‘P’ and ending in ‘ophile’ and I had blocked him a while before I reported the account.

“I was shocked to find out the person behind it was a senior official and I know many others who are shocked at the double life Mr Taylor was leading online.

“The level of bile this account directed at a wide range of MPs was unusual even for an era where Twitter abuse is commonplace.

“I suppose Mr Taylor’s position was untenable, given his job was to build positive relations with the very MPs he was secretly harassing.

“I hope Mr Taylor is able to find peace from whatever frustration or sense of inadequacy led him to create this twisted alter-ego. But most importantly, I hope his case serves as a warning to others who use the internet as a mask to whip up hatred while remaining anonymous.”

Mr Woodcock reported the account to Cumbria Police, whose officers traced it to an address in Penwortham.

Lancashire Police then stepped in, bringing Mr Taylor in for questioning under caution in connection with the tweets.

Following further investigation, Mr Taylor yesterday accepted a caution for harassment at Preston police station.

His role for the Mayor of London had been to foster good relations with MPs, ministers and civil servants and he had been appointed under Boris Johnson’s lead five years ago.

A City Hall spokesman said: “These are serious allegations. A member of staff was suspended, pending an investigation, and has subsequently resigned and has left the GLA with immediate effect.”

A raft of tweets were sent from an account using the Twitter handle ‘Eli Naylor’ or ‘@Elithebarraboy’.

When an LEP staff member tweeted her shock after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered, the account tweeted back: “Aaaaaand it’s all about you. Round of applause, a real class act”.

But most of the tweets targeted Labour MP Mr Woodcock, including several falsely accusing the Barrow and Furness MP of going drinking with a paedophile.

In June, one tweet sent said: “Seriously man, I’d quit boozy nights with paedos - you’re not looking well #haggard”

Both Mr Taylor’s personal Twitter account and the Eli Naylor account have since been deleted.

Over a period of several months, the ‘Eli Naylor’ account attacked other politicians, including Croydon Central Conservative MP Gavin Barwell for his reaction to the death of Jo Cox, and also belittled Labour MP Hilary Benn over a posted photo.