Former mayor praised himself and even had conversations with himself via the ‘sockpuppet’ account – then blamed his wife when found out
Former mayor of Camden council Lazzaro Pietragnoli has resigned his position as Labour’s chief whip after being discovered running a ‘sockpuppet‘ Twitter account, posing as a ‘Primrose Hill mum’, to abuse colleagues and others, including the then-Mayor of the borough, left-winger Maryam Eslamdoust – and then trying to blame his professor wife for it when he was caught, according to the Camden New Journal.
Pietragnoli ran the account for around five years. During that time, he attacked Jeremy Corbyn, called Eslamdoust a ‘scumbag’ and – still serving as a Labour councillor – advised people to vote Green while Corbyn was the party leader.
The account, which Pietragnoli has admitted was abusive, regularly praised him and even had conversations with him on Twitter.
When caught out Pietragnoli claimed the account was run by his wife, Professor Valentina Arena, and briefly changed its ‘bio’, adding (Valentina) to its ‘handle’ and adding ‘proud wife of Cllr Lazzaro Pietragnoli’. Based on his claim, the CNJ published an article pointing the finger at Prof Arena and has since apologised.
Under Labour’s rules, bringing the party into disrepute and advocating for another party while a Labour member are both automatic expulsion offences. It remains to be seen whether Pietragnoli will get a free pass because of his right-wing credentials.
Cllr Eslamdoust has said that Pietragnoli’s abuse was not a victimless crime, that she was ‘horrified’ that it had come from the Labour group’s chief whip and that the abuse had caused her stress during her pregnancy.
Pietragnoli has now referred himself to the council’s standards committee and has issued an apology, claiming he was under stress at the time. On blaming his wife for the account, he said:
I panicked and came up with the worst possible explanation without considering the consequences of my action. I appreciate the distress that this situation has caused to many people and would like to apologise to them unreservedly.
Keir Starmer has so far not commented on the matter.
As has long been clear, despite the narrative pushed by the Labour right and its media friends that left-wing social media accounts generate abuse, in reality the vast majority of the abuse came from the right toward the left. Pietragnoli is a case in point, but such conduct has not been limited to social media and some of those responsible now sit on Keir Starmer’s front bench.
After five years of handwringing and whining when Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, the right is now shamelessly meting out exactly the treatment that it falsely claimed it was suffering. The main thing that makes Pietragnoli’s case stand out is that he was outed and apologised, rather than the media covering for him as they do for the parliamentary and staff-level abusers from Keir Starmer down.
It was and remains a scam perpetrated on the people of this country and particularly the vulnerable.
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