The abuse of candidates on Twitter has escalated during the election campaign, research suggests, with Conservatives seeing the biggest rise.

Abuse spiked after TV debates, a study by the University of Sheffield found – with abuse of Tories rising and Labour and Lib Dem levels remaining stable.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn received most, followed by Tory leader Boris Johnson.

Others have reported being threatened with sledgehammers and targeted by abusive graffiti and vandalism.

Conservative candidate Andrea Jenkyns told the BBC some of the abuse she received had been “sexually violent”, while the SNP’s Lisa Cameron said social media trolls had threatened to behead her.

Researchers looked at the abusive replies candidates received on Twitter during the first four weeks of the general election campaign.

They cross-referenced a database of slurs and offensive

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