Published: 13:14, 04 January 2021
| Updated: 14:03, 04 January 2021
A prominent newspaper columnist told an Ashford-based scientist he was 'finished' after responding to a tweet accusing her of stoking hate towards NHS workers.
David Bradshaw, who works for pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, responded to a tweet from Harborough MP Neil O'Brien who was criticising the cartoonist Bob Moran for 'Covid-sceptic nonsense'.
Though Mr Bradshaw's tweets have now been deleted, several Twitter uses have posted screenshots of one reply - it read: "Yes he and others - Pearson, JHB, Toby Young - are consciously stoking hatred and aggression towards NHS workers."
Mail On Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens tagged Allison Pearson and tweeted: "Please give evidence of this very seriously and possibly defamatory claim."
What followed was a slew of tweets from Mrs Pearson threatening to contact GlaxoSmithKline's CEO and sue the scientist on defamation grounds.
She tweeted: "Right, that's it. Libel. Disgusting.
"I'll be in touch with your CEO. Presenting official NHS data as falsehood. My god."
A follow-up tweet simply read: "You're finished."
In several tweets Mr Bradshaw apologised, said he had retracted his statement by deleting the tweets and offered to donate money to charity to right his wrong.
He wrote: "Hi Allison. Again I apologise. I am very loyal to the NHS. I have worked for them in the past and have a very dependent special needs son.
"I have become very worried seeing the hostility NHS people are facing currently.
"I am the main breadwinner and my family rely on me for this."
Mrs Pearson replied with: "You will be hearing from my lawyer. You made defamatory allegations that I was involved in a "hate campaign" against the NHS when i cited official NHS England data."
Although Mrs Pearson has quoted the phrase "hate campaign" several times and attributed it to Mr Bradshaw, some Twitter user have said that the phrase was not used by Mr Bradshaw in his now-deleted tweets.
The social media spat has attracted a lot of attention, with Mr Bradshaw gaining more than 3,000 followers since yesterday.
Now users are tweeting #IStandWithDave to rally behind the scientist.
Food writer Jack Monroe, who has nearly 300,000 followers on the platform, replied to Mr Bradshaw: "Hi Dave. If you need a good lawyer, I’m happy to put you in touch with mine. My DMs are open. You’re not alone here and please know lots of us would be happy to help. Jack X"
She also told users who wanted to support Mr Bradshaw should report Mrs Pearson's tweets as targeted harassment.
Scores of Twitter users are now using #IStandWithDave to show they have reported the tweets from the Telegraph columnist.
British writer Tom Chivers also tweeted: "You 100% do not get to go on about freedom of speech and the dangers of cancel culture one day, and the next day threaten to sue (and name the employers of) a rando on Twitter who was rude to you."
Mrs Pearson has been contacted by KentOnline for comment.