Katie Price has today revealed the ‘disgusting’ abuse trolls aim at her disabled son Harvey as she demands MPs change the law so online bullies face justice at a landmark parliamentary inquiry.
The ex-glamour model gave evidence to the Petitions Committee this afternoon via video link for the new inquiry into online abuse.
Price, 42, revealed three police officers, cricketer Ben Stokes and comedian Frankie Boyle had all mocked her son.
She wants a new UK law – which she has dubbed ‘Harvey’s Law’ – to be created to make online trolling a specific criminal offence.
Ex-glamour model Katie Price, 42, pictured giving evidence to the Petitions Committee this afternoon via video link for the landmark parliamentary inquiry into online abuse
Price also wants a register of people found guilty of online abuse.
She told MPs: ‘Throughout the years I get a lot of trolling and online abuse. The difference is I’m able to speak out myself, but my son Harvey was born with disabilities, he gets a lot of racial abuse, disgusting despicable things.
‘He gets memes made about it, TikToks, posters, he gets mocked in such a serious disgusting way, there has to be some kind of justice.’
She commented: ‘I think on social media there has be some kind of consequences.
‘We are all allowed freedom of speech but you know when you’re crossing that line, more people are committing suicide, it’s just getting worse, it’s on a wider spectrum.
‘It’s got to become a law and if it doesn’t this time, I will keep fighting until it does. How far does it have to go before consequences are done?’
Price added: ‘This is disgusting, they need to be banned. If you go and get a mortgage or a car they want to know your name, your address, credit checks, why can’t they do it on social media? There is not enough protection.’
Price said she did not want to stop Harvey enjoying social media and sharing videos of his keyboard playing.
Price giving evidence to the Petitions Committee while at her desk in the virtual hearing. She wants a new UK law to be created to make online trolling a specific criminal offence
Price, pictured outside Parliament with her son Harvey in 2018, said three police officers, cricketer Ben Stokes and comedian Frankie Boyle had all mocked her son
‘Why should he stop doing it, why should I be told I can’t let him enjoy that, when other people do?’
She added she spent time in The Priory earlier this year, saying: ‘I can see how people end up committing suicide. It all goes down to mental health, think what the bullying and trolling does.’
Price joked: ‘I should become an MP because you can’t get a word in with me’, before adding that her campaign to end abuse has spurred on some trolls.
She said: ‘It’s encouraged trolls I think, “you can’t stop me so I will carry on”.
‘They are laughing at him, not with him. He gets a lot of it from football fans, they call him a gorilla, I’m not going to say it all, it should be treated the same when it’s written, I think people are more shocked verbally.’
Price’s mother, Amy, told MPs there should be a register of trolls, and said: ‘They can go on this register because there have got to be consequences.’
Price with her son (centre) and mother Amy (left) in 2018. Price’s petition in 2017 to criminalise trolling received over 220,000 signatures, leading to a parliamentary inquiry into online abuse
Price added: ‘People think it’s funny to show to their friends, there is no penalty, they might get their account closed down but they open it in another name or another email address and carry on.
‘Nothing has improved, things have got worse.’
Price said she had had no response from social media companies when she complained to them and it took her two years to get her Facebook account back after she was hacked by a stalker.
She said: ‘They have got to step up, they just have to. You report it but you never hear back or you still see them up there.’
She added: ‘There have been more suicides, more mental health issues, more abuse, the language on there is getting worse, because people know they can get away with it.’
The House of Commons Petitions Committee, pictured. Price’s petition in 2017 to criminalise trolling has received over 220,000 signatures
Price, 42, wants a new UK law – which she has dubbed ‘Harvey’s Law’ – to be created to make online trolling a specific criminal offence (pictured, February 2018)
The reality TV star also appeared before a parliamentary committee two years ago in an attempt to help combat trolls hurling racist abuse at 18-year-old Harvey, who is blind and has a range of health problems which hamper his speech.
Price’s petition in 2017 to criminalise trolling has received over 220,000 signatures, and led to a parliamentary inquiry into online abuse.
The Petitions Committee recommended legal protections for disabled people suffering from hate crime in its findings published in January last year.
WHAT ARE HARVEY’S HEALTH PROBLEMS?
Harvey has been diagnosed with Prader-Willi syndrome, which leaves him with an excessive appetite and led to him being overweight, with weak muscles and learning difficulties.
He also has been a rare condition called septo-optic dysplasia which has left him partially blind.
And he also has autism – a condition which affects his ability to talk and communicate with others, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) which leaves him hyperactive and unable to concentrate easily.
A new inquiry, called ‘Tackling Online Abuse’, will ‘look again at the experiences of people who have faced online abuse, while focusing primarily on potential solutions for its reduction and prevention, legally, socially and technologically’.
As part of the investigation, the Committee will ‘scrutinise’ the Government’s response to online abuse and ‘continue to press on the action it needs to take’.
It follows The Only Way is Essex star, Bobby Norris, speaking to MPs about his experiences of homophobic abuse, after his petition on tackling online abuse raised more than 133,000 signatures.
Catherine McKinnell, Chair of the Petitions Committee, said: ‘Online abuse is a silent menace, and our new inquiry is an eleventh hour bid to put an end to it before it spirals out of control.
‘With social distancing rules, people are spending ever more of their lives online.
‘The importance of doing something about this issue before it causes more damage is greater than ever.
‘If we don’t take action soon, then there is a real risk that a whole new generation will be irretrievably exposed to and harmed by online abuse.
‘I’m pleased to welcome Katie back to the Committee after first meeting her during her campaign against online abuse last year.
‘Her bravery in sharing her personal experiences of the abuse she has endured alongside her son Harvey will shine a light on key issues, and will help this new landmark investigation find practical and technological solutions to the problem.’
The Labour MP added: ‘The Government has failed to make sufficient progress on preventing online abuse, and our inquiry represents a watershed moment where we can either take action to deal with this crisis or leave it free to cause its harm in so many aspects of modern life.
‘We are calling for evidence from expert witnesses in this area and the general public, and our Committee will conduct its investigation over the coming weeks and months as we hold the Government to account on this issue.’
Katie Price’s 2017 petition: Full text
Make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders
‘Make online abuse a specific criminal offence and create a register of offenders’
Trolling is a major problem in this day and age. People of all ages and background suffer every day, including my family – especially my son Harvey. I have tried my best to expose people and even had two arrested but nothing was done and there were no repercussions or penalties for this behaviour.
This does not affect just high profile people it affects everyone from every walk of life from young children, teenagers, people at work, husbands and wives. This abuse includes racism, homophobia, body shaming and a whole range of other hate speech. This petition is an important topical issue and I want it to help bring justice to everyone who has ever suffered at the hands of trolls.
Help me to hammer home worldwide that bullying is unacceptable whether it’s face to face or in an online space.