A BUSINESSMAN has admitted sending a string of abusive emails to MPs, as the Commons Speaker said he should face “the full force of the law”.

Paul Ritchie, 34, could face up to two years in jail after pleading guilty to 28 counts of sending an electronic communication with intent to cause distress or anxiety at Southwark Crown Court earlier today.

The charges relate to emails sent over a six-month period between March and August 2019, with victims including SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, former Commons speaker John Bercow and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

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Other recipients included former home secretary Amber Rudd, former attorney general Dominic Grieve QC, former LibDem leader Jo Swinson, her successor Ed Davey, and one-time London mayoral candidate and Cabinet minister Rory Stewart.

The court heard Ritchie was traced through two email addresses, including one linked to his business Snapr – a property services booking website – and arrested at his flat in Paddington, central London.

In a statement to the court, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle said “the level of abuse, threats and intimidation” received by MPs had increased following the terrorist murder of Jo Cox.

“Those responsible should face the full force of the law at the appropriate level,” he said.

“The members should feel safe in the knowledge they are able to perform their role in democracy.”

Prosecutor Ruby Selva said those who had received Ritchie’s emails had told of their “upset, feelings of being unsettled and fear for their personal safety”.

She said Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price reported feeling “unsettled, upset and concerned for his safety” after receiving an email telling him “you deserve to get shot in the face you prick”, while having dinner with his family following an appearance to discuss Brexit on the Andrew Marr Show.

A message Ritchie sent to Corbyn in March 2019 read: “You should be hung for treason you f****** terrorist.”

The same month, he sent an email to the Speaker’s Office saying: “One in 17 million is bad odds for some nutter to pull a Jo Cox on you and your staff.”

A week later, he wrote: “Be careful ... (y)ou wouldn’t want to get run over.”

In other messages to Bercow’s office, Ritchie threatened: “I’m going to milkshake you, you prick.” He made references to Brexit and democracy.

In an email in May 2019 to former MP Chuka Umunna, who represented several parties, Ritchie wrote: “You have been warned ... shut your f****** mouth boy.”

In July, he said: “If you kill Brexit ... (w)e will kill you and your entire family.”

And he told Stewart in June 2019: “If you block Brexit ... you like likely (sic) be assassinated.”

Ritchie also told Swinson she deserved to be “hung”, and said to Rudd that she was “definitely going to be assassinated”.

In messages to Blackford, Ritchie said: “I hope you die.” He also said: “I dare you to come to the pub in Westminster and say some of the shit you do in the house.”

Ritchie appeared in the dock wearing beige trousers and a dark green sweater over an open-collared white shirt and looked at the ground as the case was opened.

Emma Fenn, defending, said Ritchie felt “genuine remorse and shame at the content of these messages”, which “do not bear any resemblance to his political views”, with repeated references to Brexit despite him “voting in the opposite direction”.

“He is a businessman, an educated man, who is really currently struggling, and who has unravelled,” she added.

The court heard Ritchie was suffering with depression and abusing drugs and alcohol at the time of the offences, but Judge Adam Hiddleston said: “The motivation appears to be anger and frustration.”

The judge adjourned sentencing until June 18 for further information from a recent mental health examination in Scotland, where Ritchie now lives.

Ritchie, of Dolphinton in Lanarkshire, was granted bail on condition he does not contact any of the victims or any serving MP, except his local MP, Conservative former Cabinet minister David Mundell.