Operation Octant secures two more convictions


In an article published lat week, elsewhere on this website (read more here), Greater Manchester Police revealed the extent of an investigation, codenamed Octant, into malicious communications sent to Ashton-under-Lyne MP, Angela Rayner.

Two men have since admitted sending abusive emails and phone calls to the high profile MP, who also serves the Labour Party as Deputy Leader.

Michael McGrath, 70, of Silkstone Crescent, Sheffield, and Stuart Kelly, 53 of East Park Road, Halifax, pleaded guilty at Westminster Magistrate’s Court, following an investigation carried out by Greater Manchester Police in connection with malicious communications sent to her.

McGrath was sentenced to 6 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to pay courts costs amounting to £200, after pleading guilty to sending an offensive/indecent/obscene/menacing message.

Kelly will be sentenced separately on 14th April, 2022.

On Saturday 16th October 2021, McGrath sent threatening and abusive emails, calling the MP a ‘f***ing vile b***h’ amongst other insults.

On Monday 18th October 2021, Kelly left three voicemails on Angela Rayner’s answerphone calling her ‘a f***ing murderer’ and saying that he wished she would be shot dead.

Last year, Benjamin Iliffe, 36, from Cambridgeshire, was sentenced to 15 weeks in prison, suspended for 18 months, after pleading guilty to sending malicious communications to Ms Rayner. That was part of Operation Octant which has seen five people arrested in total.

Detective Sergeant Chris Dean, a Tameside CID officer, said: “Abusive and threatening emails or phone calls, towards anyone, is unacceptable and not only impacts the life of those they are directed at but also those close to them.

“The abusive messages both McGrath and Kelly sent to this woman left her incredibly fearful for her safety and the safety of those around her. We launched a full investigation to identify those responsible and I hope today’s sentence clearly demonstrates that these actions have consequences.

“What you think may be a quick and harmless email or phone call can result in a criminal conviction and we will always do what we can to take robust action against you.”

As reported last week, a spokesperson for the MP has said, previously:

“Angela would like to thank the police for their work during these investigations.

“Abuse and threats of this nature don’t just have an impact on Angela but also on her family, her children and her staff, who are on the receiving end of these communications.”

Sgt Dean is also in charge of the investigation into an unemployed, 48yo male from Mossley, Tameside, Raja Miah, who is on court bail awaiting trial over what GMP say are harassment and malicious communications charges. Miah has pleaded not guilty and claims his arrest was ‘politically motivated’. He next appears in Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 12th April, 2022.

Page last updated: Friday 18th March, 2022 at 0835 hours

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Picture credit: My London

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© Neil Wilby 2015-2021. Unauthorised use, or reproduction, of the material contained in this article, without permission from the author, is strictly prohibited. Extracts from, and links to, the article (or blog) may be used, provided that credit is given to Neil Wilby Media, with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Published by Neil Wilby

Former Johnston Press area managing director. Justice campaigner. Freelance investigative journalist.

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