A Leicestershire woman has apparently
fled her home after being accused of
targeting missing Madeleine McCann's
parents, Kate and Gerry, via Twitter.
Brenda Leyland, 63, of Burton Overy, was
yesterday confronted by Sky News, which
claimed she was one of dozens of
so-called trolls - people who post
abusive messages online - targeting the
Rothley couple over the internet.
Sky News reporter Martin Brunt visited
Ms Leyland’s home and asked her why she
was using her Twitter account to attack
The conversation was caught on camera,
with Ms Leyland, who apparently uses the
identity Sweepyface on the social
networking website, replying: “I’m
Mr Brunt is then filmed telling Ms
Leyland that she had been reported to
the police, and that Scotland Yard was
investigating a dossier of Twitter
accounts which had apparently shown
abuse against the McCanns.
Ms Leyland, who is believed to be a
mother-of-two who has lived in the
village for around 15 years, replied:
“That’s fair enough."
Police have confirmed that they are
examining a number of trolls who have
posted threatening messages online about
Madeleine McCann, who disappeared while
on a family holiday in Portugal, in May,
2007, and targeted at her parents.
Metropolitan Police received a “letter
and documentation” last month containing
a list of the online abuse.
They are investigating a series of
messages, written on Twitter, Facebook,
message boards and forums.
The dossier is reported to have been 80
pages long, and to stem back over the
past seven years.
It was compiled by members of the public
concerned about the abuse.
The Mercury visited Burton Overy
yesterday, but on discovering Ms Leyland
was not at home was told by a neighbour
that she had “fled the village”.
The resident, who would rather not be
named said: “Somebody took a photo of
her on Thursday afternoon and then she
“I haven’t seen her since.”
Accusations of Ms Leyland being involved
with the internet attacks appears to
have shocked many residents in Burton
Overy, a small, idyllic village in
One resident said: “I was totally
“But while I wouldn’t condone what
Brenda is accused of doing, I am worried
for her safety now she has apparently
fled the village.”
A fellow villager said: “We all have
opinions on things but they should be
kept to yourself.”
Another person said: “I find it quite
sad that people sit in their house all
day just tweeting about stuff.
“I don’t think what these people have
done is nice at all, I think it’s
Meanwhile Kate and Gerry have received a
£55,000 in libel damages from the Sunday
According to BBC News, the payout came
after the newspaper claimed the couple
had withheld details about their
daughter’s disappearance from
Kate and Gerry reportedly said the
Sunday Times did not provide them with a
proper opportunity to comment and chose
not to publish key parts of their
The Sunday Times said it has agreed a
settlement with Kate and Gerry.
The money will be donated by Kate and
Gerry to two charities for missing
people and sick children.