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'Twitter troll' Brenda Leyland 'flees Leicestershire home' after being accused of targeting Madeleine McCann's parents, Kate and Gerry



Original Source: Leicester Mercury Friday 03 October 2014
By Yasmin_Duffin | Posted: October 03, 2014

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 McCanns.


The conversation was caught on camera, with Ms Leyland, who apparently uses the identity Sweepyface on the social networking website, replying: “I’m entitled to."


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 was gone.


“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 south-east Leicestershire.


One resident said: “I was totally surprised.


“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 horrible.”


Meanwhile Kate and Gerry have received a £55,000 in libel damages from the Sunday Times.


According to BBC News, the payout came after the newspaper claimed the couple had withheld details about their daughter’s disappearance from authorities.


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 response.


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.


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