Diane Abbott speaks candidly about the 'frightening' online abuse she receives

Watch the full episode of the Acting Prime Minister podcast with Diane Abbott

Former shadow home secretary Diane Abbott has opened up about the "frightening" abuse she says she frequently receives on social media.

The senior Labour politician, who was the first ever black female to be elected an MP, also revealed she "very regularly" has to report violent threats to the police.

Speaking on the ITV News podcast Acting Prime Minister, Ms Abbott admitted she's made mistakes during her 33 years in Parliament, but she said she feels she is punished for them much more than other MPs.

"The media and a lot of the people you see online are a little less forgiving of me, mistakes from other MPs would be shrugged off.

"It becomes a big deal if it is me," she told podcast presenter Paul Brand.

Ms Abbott shared what it was like to receive a barrage of online abuse after an interview in which she slipped up while speaking about police numbers.

"It was very frightening to be at the eye of the storm," she said.

Ms Abbott did a series of broadcast interviews about police numbers and "did all of them without a slip", however in one discussion she had trouble recalling some figures.

"At first I thought: 'oh well, it was just a mistake' but it just became this huge storm and wherever I went that day I was surrounded by cameras.

"It was the most alarming and demoralising thing, not least because it was one slip up in a whole series of interviews on the same subject."

She added: "What was frightening was the abuse and this theme that I was stupid, that I was unfit to become a member of parliament.

"It was just naked abuse - scrutiny is one thing, MPs ought to expect that - naked abuse is another."

Ms Abbott said the most upsetting abuse she finds is when it is aimed at her son.

"It's incredibly hurtful - it's much more hurtful than anything is written about me," she said.

The Hackney North and Stoke Newington MP, who in recent years has become a target for internet trolls, said she now chooses not to read most of the insults aimed at her because it would be "so demoralising".

But her staff, who keep an eye on her social media profile, have been "really shocked" at what they've seen.

"We very regularly have to send stuff to the police because of threats of violence and other threats."

She said it was not for her to say she gets abused because she is black, but said "it is noticeable" she receives more abuse than others.

In the podcast, Ms Abbott also talks about the current Labour leader Keir Starmer, why she thinks Labour lost the 2019 election, what it was like to be the first black female MP - and reveals whether she'd rather dine with Margaret Thatcher or Boris Johnson.

Listen to the full episode of Acting Prime Minister with Diane Abbott below: