Collins in Twitter war

Last updated 13:39 10/12/2013
judith collins
Fairfax NZ
JUDITH COLLINS: "It's the sort of thing where I'm not a 14-year-old girl who's worried about my place in the world, so for me it's just stupid abuse and I block it."

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A senior Government minister has become embroiled in a Twitter trolling war, after calling Labour leader David Cunliffe a "numpty" on the social networking site.

The war erupted on Twitter last night after Justice Minister Judith Collins tweeted Cunliffe and Springbok tour protest leader John Minto were "numpties with bells on".

Max Coyle, a former Green Party candidate, responded to Justice Minister Collins on Twitter, saying: "Go kill yourself you despicable human".

Collins said it was her remarks that set him off, but said it was no excuse to be calling for people to kill themselves.

"I think he didn't like me saying that Cunliffe and Minto are numpties," she said.

But Coyle said he was actually responding to Collins' comments on an earlier post in which Coyle called for three Young Nat members to be executed.

"It's the sort of thing where I'm not a 14-year-old girl who's worried about my place in the world, so for me it's just stupid abuse and I block it.

"But if it's a 14-year-old kid who is thinking like that, it's the sort of thing that actually can have dire consequences."

Collins said Coyle "needed help".

Coyle has also stood by his remarks, celebrating the coverage his tweet got on his Facebook page.

He is no longer a member of the Green Party and it's not the first time he's courted controversy.

He was forced to apologise publicly during the 2011 election campaign, after misleading the Waikato Times during his campaign in Hamilton East.

A spokesman for the Green Party said as far as he was aware, Coyle had formally resigned his membership in 2012, but the party had not engaged with him since 2011. The party denounced Coyle's comments.

But it's not the first time Collins has run into trouble on Twitter either.

Known for her sharp barbs, she has received backlash for many tweets which range from calling Labour MP Annette King "tragic", to telling David Shearer to "just stop", after he tweeted to promote a speech he was giving in Parliament.

Last month, Collins introduced new anti-cyberbullying laws.

Her bill, would create a new offence of sending messages or posting material to cause harm, punishable by up to three months in jail or a $2000 fine.

Inciting someone to commit suicide would also carry a maximum three-year jail sentence.

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Last year, New Zealand-born Australian TV personality Charlotte Dawson ended up in hospital after trolls on Twitter called for her to "go hang herself".

*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Max Coyle deleted his tweet which read "Go kill yourself you despicable human".





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If it is an emergency or you feel you or someone you know is at risk, please call 111

For information about suicide prevention, see

- Stuff

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