The NSW Police’s counter-terrorism unit is investigating a string of homophobic, racist, and anti-semitic emails targeting the federal MP for Wentworth, Dr Kerryn Phelps.
Dr Phelps made a complaint to NSW Police following the latest abusive email which said “LGBT are no better than pigs or dogs.”
She said an email distributed this week which named her three children was particularly distressing for her family.
“The thing that made me really alarmed this week was that they actually mentioned my children by name,” Dr Phelps said.
“My family is concerned that there’s been an escalation in the content, particularly with my family members being named.”
Dr Phelps’ wife, Jackie, has also provided police with a statement after she said she was followed by an unknown person in Double Bay and Bondi Junction earlier this week, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
Last week, Dr Phelps said she had referred a new round of emails to the Australian Federal Police (AFP) but was disappointed with their response.
She said at least 10 emails containing untrue and malicious claims had been circulated about her in the past seven months.
One sent during last year’s Wentworth by-election claimed she had HIV and had withdrawn from the race.
“[The emails are] homophobic, they’re anti-Semitic, they’re quite disturbing in their content,” she told ABC News.
“Some people are getting two or three a day and they’re contacting me to say ‘Well, what can you do about it?’.
“There’s no question that this individual or group is trying to affect the vote on Saturday.
“They’re saying I’ve withdrawn, I’m not valid as a candidate, they’re saying I’m in jail, they’re saying frankly all sorts of crazy stuff, but their aim is to turn voters away from me.”
Dr Phelps said there was “no place for this kind of intimidation in our democracy.”
Liberal candidate says emails ‘malicious and deeply hurtful’
A NSW Police spokesperson said Counter Terrorism Command officers would help local police try and determine the individual or group responsible for the emails.
The Liberal candidate for Wentworth, Dave Sharma, said he had been “highly disturbed” by the “malicious and deeply hurtful” emails and condemned them.
“It is clear to me these emails are intended to influence voters and corrupt our democratic process,” he said.
“As a result I take them very seriously and condemn them absolutely.
“[I] will do everything I can to ensure the people responsible are discovered and held accountable.”
Sharma said he had hired cybersecurity experts to analyse them and passed email addresses and phone numbers believed to be associated with the perpetrator to the Australian Federal Police.
The federal election will be held this Saturday, May 18.
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