The trolls came out in force after Judy Finnigan appearing to defend a convicted rapist by saying "the rape was not violent".
And in another high profile case, a troll who was caught attacking the parents of missing girl Madeleine McCann committed suicide, unable to live with the shame of being outed as an internet troll.
I've said it before, and I'll say it again, by far the best way of dealing with trolls is to ignore them. Generally they are looking to provoke a reaction, and if the don't get a reaction they'll eventually get bored and turn their attention elsewhere.
The problem is, that doesn't always work. Sometimes they never give up. The question is, what do you do then? I have had a number of trolls over the years and as I don't engage with them, most eventually get bored and move on to other targets.
But some just won't give up. Howard Jones, Conservative Councillor for Leatherhead North, has just tweeted this:
In the Tweet he accuses me of being an Amazon fake reviewer.
That is not true. I don't review many books on Amazon but when I do they are not "fake". And I do not post reviews of my own books.
Maybe he is confused, or maybe he is deliberately lying. I don't know. But the statement he made is a lie. And a lie told in public is a libel. As a barrister he would know that.
His attacks are also highly personal. Here, for instance, he calls me a narcissist and a sociopath. Yet Howard Jones does not know me. He has never spoken to me. He knows nothing about me yet he continues to mount personal attacks against me.
I'm not sure what to do. Howard Jones has made a habit of attacking me in public and generally I have just ignored him. That's the best way of dealing with trolls. If you get a malicious review, just ignore it. If you get trolled on a forum or a blog, just ignore it. And if a troll vents his spleen on Twitter, just block the person and they won't bother you again.
The big question, though, is how long you have to ignore a troll before they move on and pick on someone else. Most trolls give up after a few weeks. A few will persevere for a month or two, especially on Twitter because Twitter makes it so easy for trolls. Howard Jones, though, just won't stop. I don't know why he has decided to pick on me, but he clearly won't give up.
I'm not the only one that Howard Jones picks on. Recently he retweeted an allegation about Prince Andrew. I doubt that Howard Jones knows anything about Prince Andrew's private life, but he seemed happy to spread the rumour.
Howard Jones clearly has something against Prince Andrew as he also retweeted the following vile Tweet.
Does Howard Jones expect to follow a political career? Seriously? While Howard Jones has reached the dizzy heights of Mole Valley District Council's Executive Member for Town Centres, I hope that anyone considering Howard Jones for elected office sees the above Tweets and reflects on them.
Clearly Howard Jones has nothing but contempt for the Royal Family. He also seems to take pride in the fact that he never married the mother of his children, which seems strange behaviour for a Conservative elected official.
Here's the thing about Howard Jones. He is a barrister and barristers are governed by the Bar Code of Conduct which requires barristers to be courteous at all times. Clearly in my case he's being far from courteous so maybe I should complain to the Bar Standards Board? Or maybe I should ask the Conservative Central Office if they think he is behaving in a manner befitting an elected official representing the Conservative Party. Or get a lawyer to send him a "cease and desist" letter. Or do I just continue to ignore him? I just don't know. I just wish he would leave me alone.
Recently Howard Jones publicly tweeted another allegation about me, claiming that I was behind a sock puppet account on Twitter.
That is an absolute lie. The account is nothing to do with me. I Tweet through two accounts and both are clearly labelled with my name on the profile page, @stephenleather and @firstparagraph. Those are the only two accounts I use.
I don't know why Howard Jones decided to make those allegations in public, but they are lies and I deserve an apology. I doubt I will get one, because Howard Jones has demonstrated an unwillingness to engage with me directly, he prefers to Tweet insults and lies. What should I do? I'm giving the matter some serious thought.
UPDATE - DECEMBER 26
Unbelievable as it may sound, instead of spending Boxing Day with his family, Howard Jones was on Twitter continuing to libel me.
He started off by calling me a narcissist, a sociopath and a bully. I don't think I'm any of those things. I'm certainly not a narcissist, I hate seeing my photograph and am able to see all my own faults to the nth degree. A sociopath maybe, but then a lot of successful people have sociopathic tendencies. The tricks to keep them under control. A bully? I can honestly put my hand on my heart and say that I don't think I am a bully. I don't recall ever attacking anyone unless I was attacked first. I will always defend my corner but I can't think of any occasion when I have gone on the attack without me being wronged first.
Name-calling is the norm on Twitter but Howard Jones crossed the line again with his next Tweets.
In them he accuses me of using sock puppet accounts to post bad reviews of rival authors. I have never done that. And why would I? Posting a bad review of a rival author (and that's in itself nonsense, authors are not rivals) doesn't help sell my books. And almost certainly wouldn't hurt that author's sales. It could be that Howard Jones is confusing me with another author outed by the Jeremy Duns he refers to. But he is quite wrong to make that accusation about me.
But his most damaging allegation is that I have fabricated bogus solicitors letters. I have never, ever, done that. I have no idea why Howard Jones has made that accusation. I do wonder why a barrister, albeit non-practising, is prepared to tell so many lies about me in public. It's all very worrying.
And I'm not the only one to have noticed that Howard Jones behaves badly on Twitter. READ THIS TO SEE HOW HE USED THE MURDER OF MP JOE COX TO SMEAR LABOUR SUPPORTERS.