The embattled Scottish MP Natalie McGarry is at the centre of another controversy after she accused JK Rowling of bullying, prompting the Harry Potter author to threaten legal proceedings.
McGarry withdrew from the SNP whip last November after revelations linking her to an allegation that tens of thousands of pounds in donations may be missing from Women for Independence, the campaign group she helped found.
The Glasgow East MP is now facing a threat of legal action by Rowling after a late-night Twitter spat during which McGarry accused her of supporting a “misogynist Twitter troll”.
The public argument, which lasted for more than six hours, began when McGarry announced she had discovered the author “defending misogynist trolls” and said she regretted queuing up to buy Rowling’s books.
Rowling immediately responded, demanding evidence of the accusation, warning McGarry:
McGarry appeared to be referring to Rowling’s friendly interactions with a Twitter account named Brian Spanner QC, which had previously raised money for Rowling’s children’s charity Lumos. The account regularly tweets foul-mouthed, expletive-riddled and sexist abuse, particularly directed against SNP politicians and supporters of Scottish independence. Rowling herself was vociferous in her support for the union during the 2014 referendum campaign.
After further demands from Rowling for evidence, McGarry initially seemed to back down, tweeting: “On reflection, I shouldn’t have accused Joanne Rowling of anything based on folk she tweets or retweets, and sends supportive tweets to.”
Meanwhile, the disputed Brian Spanner QC account began to hurriedly apologise for previous abuse directed at prominent female politicians, including former Scottish secretary Margaret Curran, which made reference to female genital mutilation, the menopause and described one SNP councillor as “a nationalist fruitcake cunt”.
Then McGarry surfaced again, repeating her accusation with another screengrab of an apparent interaction between Rowling and the Spanner account. Rowling retorted:
As more and more Twitter users piled in on either side, the spat continued to escalate as Rowling threatened McGarry with legal action, telling her opponent:
She later said damages would go to Lumos.
McGarry’s Twitter feed has now been hidden from public view with only confirmed followers having access.
The Guardian understands that McGarry’s lawyer has not received any notification of proceeding as of Friday morning.
A spokesperson for Rowling said on Friday afternoon that the situation was being reviewed and that there would be no further comment at this stage.
This article was written by Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Friday 29th January 2016 18.58 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010