Detectives are probing a rape threat aimed at a regional daily journalist who has also been subjected to a torrent of online abuse.
Cumbria Police is investigating a threat made against Amy Fenton, chief reporter of South Cumbria daily The Mail, in a comment published on the newspaper’s Facebook page.
The threat was made after the newspaper published a clarification on its Facebook page relating to its coverage of a recent court case.
In response, one user then posted the vile comment: “The Amy Fenton needs raping.”
Amy, pictured, has also been threatened with further violence after covering a death on her patch which is subject to police investigation.
One social media user wrote that she “needs stringing up” while another pledged to “get her in a headlock and shave her f***ing bald” if 100 people liked their comment.
Cumbria Police confirmed to HTFP it is investigating the rape threat.
A spokeswoman for the force said: “Cumbria Police are currently investigating a report of malicious online communication. Enquiries are ongoing.”
Speaking to HTFP, Amy said: “Any court reporter will know that there will always be those who resent the vital role local papers play in ensuring justice is seen to be done in public.
“In providing that public service it’s inevitable we’ll get a bit of stick at times, and I’ve certainly had my fair share, but threatening or inciting rape is far beyond what any of us should expect.
“Nobody deserves to be threatened or targeted in such a violent and despicable way simply for doing their job. The police need to crack down on behaviour like this and this issue needs to be highlighted and raised at the highest level in order to protect a free press and maintain our ability to uphold the judicial system.
“Something needs to be done to put a stop to this. Our industry is already under significant pressure commercially and those in authority must act now to protect and preserve the way in which local newspapers are capable of and feel confident in reporting on legal proceedings.”
The spate of threats against Amy has prompted Newsquest Cumbria audience and content editor Joseph Anderson to hit back at the abusers on Twitter.
Posting redacted examples of the abuse, he wrote: “There’s a growing trend of people on social media (where else?) criticising local papers for reporting on deaths, car accidents and legal cases – it’s literally our job and w/o it there would only be rumour and conspiracy to fill the gap.
“Imagine criticising the BBC for reporting on the Streatham stabbing – why is it different when a local paper reports on a murder? And the vitriol our female reporters (it’s suspiciously never directed at our male reporters) is disgraceful.”
He added: “In the same week that same female reporter was subject to a rape threat, I should add. Targeting reporters for doing their jobs is disgusting – our job is to inform the public.”