Madeleine McCann Trolls Investigated By Police

02/10/2014 11:00 | Updated 20 May 2015

Kate McCann and her husband Gerry McCann

Police have launched a crackdown on internet trolls who abuse missing Madeleine McCann's parents Kate and Gerry.

The Metropolitan Police has been passed an 80-page dossier of hundreds of tweets, Facebook posts and messages on online forums accusing Kate and Gerry McCann of being involved in their daughter's disappearance in Portugal in 2007, and telling them they should 'burn in hell'.

Among the messages identified in the dossier is an exchange on a message board which reads: "These 2 should burn in hell"; "I will supply the petrol"; "I'll supply the lighter – happily".

Trolls active in recent years could now be brought to justice, with officers in talks with the Crown Prosecution Service over what action can be taken over the dossier, which was also passed to Sky News.

The evidence was compiled by members of the public, appalled at the campaign of abuse aimed at the McCanns by the largely anonymous trolls, who are convinced of the McCanns' guilt despite no supporting evidence.

Posts charted in the dossier include suggestions that the McCanns should be tortured and killed, reports of recent sightings of the couple, and manipulated images of the couple, showing them behind bars or surrounded by piles of cash.

Other messages are directed at Madeleine's younger siblings, nine-year-old twins Sean and Amelie.

One Twitter troll, whose username is 'Sweepyface' and has posted dozens of anti-McCann messages using the #mccann hashtag said that she was 'entitled' to attack the couple when confronted by Sky News.

Authors of the dossier are calling on prosecutors to take action against the posters under the Malicious Communications Act 2003, which bans online messages containing threats of violence or that could cause stress or alarm to their targets.

In one of her tweets, 'Sweepyface' called for the McCanns to suffer "for the rest of their miserable lives".

Other trolls claimed to live near the McCanns in Leicestershire, and detail supposed sightings of the family, in the gym or out shopping.

Six Twitter accounts have been set up to abuse the McCanns, the dossier says, with eight 'persistent and prolific' anti-McCann activists identified. Dozens of others are said to have participated in the abuse.

Other tactics include attempts to complain about the McCanns through Freedom of Information requests, the bombardment of the BBC Crimewatch show message board and Facebook pages.

Anthony Summers, the author of a recent book that argues the McCanns are innocent, has also been targeted.

The campaigner spearheading the appeal, who has asked to remain anonymous, told Sky News that they feared that trolls would one day translate their threats into actions.

They said: "We know that this is still continuing, that it's escalating at an alarming rate, and becoming bolder and a lot of what they're posting is becoming much more sinister."

Jim Gamble, a former police officer and online security expert, said: "I think the time has come for the hard-core few in the midst of this group to be investigated."

The Met confirmed the investigation in a letter sent to the authors of the dossier.

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