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Two charged for abusing feminist campaigner on Twitter

A man and a woman have been charged with improper use of a communications network after sending abusive messages to feminist campaigner Caroline Criado-Perez.

Isabella Sorley, 23, from Newcastle and John Nimmon, 25, from South Shields will appear in court on 7 January.

Criado-Perez rose to prominence after successfully campaigning to have author Jane Austen included on future UK banknotes. She began the campaign began when it emerged that the only woman other than the Queen to be featured on our currency, prison reformer Elizabeth Fry, would be replaced on the £5 note by wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill in the near future.

When news of her success became public, Criado-Perez began to face a slew of abuse on the social media network, including death and rape threats. The resulting public debate led to Guardian journalist Hadley Freeman, the Independent's Grace Dent and Time magazine's Catherine Mayer being subject to similar threats, as well as messages stating that a bomb had been placed outside their houses:


Criado-Perez says she received "about 50 abusive tweets an hour for about 12 hours" after the success of the campaign went public, and said that she had "stumbled into a nest of men who co-ordinate attacks on women".

In the aftermath, some 30,000 people signed a petition calling for the social networking site to implement a system for flagging up abuse that would include a "report abuse" button.

The charges brought against the two individuals follow the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) deliberating over five individuals who were arrested for sending abusive messages to Criado-Perez and the MP Stella Creasy.

One suspect has had charges dismissed, as the CPS determined that "the high threshold for prosecution has not been met."

The CPS cited the young age and personal circumstances of the suspect as reasons for prosecution not being in the public interest.

The fifth suspect faces further police investigations.

Criado-Perez has also criticised the CPS' decision to notify the press before her.

"Well that's pretty awesome. CPS informing press about charges ahead of me. About the level of victim-support I've grown to expect," she posted on Twitter.

On Saturday, Twitter reversed a decision to change the way its blocking feature worked, only a day after introducing the changes. The change meant that messages from a blocked user were simply hidden from the user who blocked them.

Michael Sippey, Twitter's vice-president of product, said in a blog post: "We have decided to revert the change after receiving feedback from many users - we never want to introduce features at the cost of users feeling less safe."