Blackburn College drawn into Twitter storm over learner’s alleged rape threat

Blackburn College has found itself at the centre of a Twitter storm after a user was sent an abusive message by one of its learners who also made a rape threat.

Abby Tomlinson, who describes herself on the social media site as a Labour Party member and leader of the #milifandom group of fans of former leader Ed Miliband, claimed that she was trolled by Andrew Nicholson on Twitter yesterday (Tuesday).

She complained to the college that Mr Nicholson, who says on Facebook that he began studying criminology and criminal justice at Blackburn College in 2013, posted sexist abusive messages including “rape threats”.

In response, the college tweeted: “The college does not tolerate abusive or indecent behaviour. Please be assured that we have formally dealt with the incident.”

A college spokesperson told FE Week this afternoon that it “became aware of the incident on Tuesday evening and have dealt with it as a matter of urgency”.

The spokesperson added that students were “aware through the tutorial and guidance provision given by the college that social media should be used responsibly, and where it brings the college into disrepute formal disciplinary action will be taken”.

The college did not say what action it had taken against Mr Nicholson.

Ms Tomlinson later tweeted: “The moral of this story is, that the things you say on social media, like those you say irl [in real life], have consequences.”

After being criticised for his behaviour by a number of other Twitter users, Mr Nicholson tweeted: “I didn’t threaten to rape the milifandom girl”.

He claimed a tweet from his account in which the rape threat was made was not directed at Ms Tomlinson, but admitted sending her an abusive message in which her boyfriend is mentioned.

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