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Blogger Olly Cromwell Escapes Jail For Calling Bexley Councillor A C*** On Twitter

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Olly Cromwell, real name John Graham Kerlen
Olly Cromwell, real name John Graham Kerlen

London-based blogger "Olly Cromwell" who called his councillor a "c***" on Twitter and invited people to put excrement through his letter box avoided a jail sentence on Wednesday.

John Graham Kerlen, who writes under the name Olly Cromwell, made the comments about Bexley Council in south London.

Last October, Kerlen, 37, tweeted "Which c*** lives in a house like this? Answers on a postcard to @bexleycouncil", along with a picture of councillor Melvin Seymour's house.

He then followed it with a second tweet, "naming him and encouraging people to put excrement through his letter box or anything else people would consider appropriate", prosecutor Denise Johnson told Bromley Magistrates' Court.

Kerlen, now of Milwards, Harlow, Essex, pleaded guilty to a charge of improper use of a public electronic communications network last month and returned today to be sentenced to 80 hours of unpaid work over 12 months.

He was also ordered to pay £620 in prosecution costs and was told a restraining order preventing him from having any contact with the councillor would remain in place for five years.

Speaking to The Huffington Post UK in March, Kerlen insisted there was "no malice intended" by the tweets but whilst playing with his new phone, and living opposite the councillor, he thought he'd be "a bit of a joker" and post a picture of the house with words similar to the show Through the Keyhole.

"The tweet was topical (for me) as I had been 'investigating' the council and councillors for a while." he explained.

He later posted another tweet which said "It’s silly posting a picture of a house on Twitter without an address, that will come later. Please feel free to post actual s**t."

However Kerlen insists he never actually identified the councillor or where he lived.

"I didn't ever say whose house it was nor did I ever give the address, it was just an off the cuff remark that I made."

He explained that because he lived opposite the councillor's house it was in his own interests to protect his anonymity too.

"I never in a million years would have guessed that someone would recognise the house," he admitted.

Twitter users and bloggers expressed solidarity with Kerlen's plight after the guilty verdict was issued, with one blogger writing:

"If you, like me, have ever slagged off anyone in authority using the medium of words, the current predicament of sweary blogger and avid Tweetist @Sir_Olly_C should have you rather worried."

Bexley Council issued a statement saying that though they were "totally supportive of freedom of expression and legitimate political debate, they believed that Kerlen's actions "went beyond the limits of what is both acceptable and reasonable in terms of freedom of expression"

Councillors are entitled to know "that their families and their homes are not legitimate targets for abuse" the statement added.

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