Loan firm admits staff may be responsible for anonymous attacks on MP (From East London and West Essex Guardian Series)
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Wonga.com admits staff may be responsible for anonymous attacks on Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy
A LOAN firm has apologised to Walthamstow MP Stella Creasy after one of its employees apparently posted anonymous attacks against her on the internet.
The Labour member has gained national prominence as a fierce critic of payday lenders and has been waging a campaign for new legislation for a limit on the fees so-called 'legal loan sharks' charge.
Now it has emerged that a member of staff at Wonga.com, one of the most high-profile companies she has criticised, may have written abusive and critical comments on Twitter without identifying themselves as an employee of the firm.
According to the national Guardian newspaper a user called Daniel Sargant described Ms Creasy as "mental" and said “that raving self-publicist is nuts”.
He also accused her of being a hypocrite for supporting the return of dog racing with gambling to Walthamstow Stadium at the same time as criticising payday lenders for targeting the poor.
Ms Creasy told the Waltham Forest Guardian: "I took up this issue because I was worried that people in Walthamstow who were already struggling were getting further into debt because of these legal loan sharks.
"Wonga has apologised and recognised that the behaviour on Twitter was completely unacceptable, which it was, and for me that's the end of the matter.
"If they have to resort to these sorts of things I take it as a sign that we're getting somewhere and winning the argument.
"It's important to put it in perspective. My main concern is how people in Walthamstow can have the best protection they can [against loan firms]".
All the Twitter messages have now been deleted.
Ms Creasy is a prolific user of Twitter and is often subject to abuse on the website.
Yesterday she posted an example of other insults, including one user who called her a "f***ing snot gobbler" among other offensive terms.
A Wonga.com spokeswoman said: "we can confirm one of our junior employees may have made unauthorised comments on a blog, and elsewhere on the web, while not identifying themselves correctly.
"We are now carrying out a full investigation and, if the employee is found to be responsible, they will face serious disciplinary action."
She added: “we do not condone any form of misleading or aggressive behaviour, on or offline.”
Ms Creasy has accused payday loan firms of charging "extortionate" fees which can have a devastating impact on the most vulnerable people in society.
Wonga charges a typical annual rate of 4,214 per cent on its loans, but says the figure is misleading because it never lends cash for more than a month.
The Office of Fair Trading launched an investigation into the firms yesterday, but Ms Creasy said it does not have enough powers to tackle the issue and new legislation was still needed.
Ms Creasy added that following its apology she hoped Wonga would help publicise her free family finances fair for residents which she is helping to organise at Mission Grove School in Walthamstow this Saturday (November 24) between 10.30am and 4pm.
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