Dominic Raab, pictured today, has said he has received several death threats and an acid attack in the past two years
Dominic Raab today backed proposals for all MPs to have private security at their surgeries instead of police guards after the murder of Sir David Amess and revealed he has had three threats to ‘life and limb’ since 2019 including an acid attack.
The Deputy Prime Minister has said he wouldn’t want plain clothes officers outside his surgeries as it would have a ‘chilling effect’ – but wouldn’t criticise MPs who ask for it and also said he was ‘happy to look’ at whether politicians should wear stab vests.
Mr Raab also signalled he could support closing anonymous social media accounts to tackle online hatred and claimed that there is now the ‘constant vilification of MPs’ in the UK.
It came as Priti Patel said that police may be drafted in to guard MPs during surgeries and that airport-style scanners would also be considered in the wake of Sir David’s murder in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday lunchtime.
But Mr Raab rejected the idea of plainclothes police protecting him and said: ‘I would be more inclined to look at private security guards and there’s already more money for that’.
He told Sky News: ‘I probably wouldn’t choose to have them (plainclothes police) outside a surgery that I had. I would worry about the chilling effect, I’m not sure it’s necessary to have that.’
Mr Raab also revealed that has had three threats to ‘life and limb’ over the past two years – and said the most recent threat he has received was of an acid attack.
Asked about the possibility of MPs wearing stab-proof vests, he told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: ‘I’m happy to look at any practical measures, but the reality is that people will threaten you with something else. The most recent threat I’ve had was someone threatening to throw acid over me.’
He said there was an ‘intervention’ in relation to the threat – but didn’t say what police had done.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, is being held by police on suspicion of murdering the veteran Conservative MP as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon
Left to right: Katie, wife Julia, Flo, Sir David Amess, Sarah and Alex at Flo’s wedding in August
Police officers erect a tent outside a house in north London, thought to be in relation to the death of Sir David
Police and intelligence officials are said to be mystified about why the veteran Tory politician was singled out for attack by a suspected Islamist extremist. Investigators now believe that there may have been no specific motive for the targeting of Sir David, and that the 69-year-old was stabbed to death because his alleged killer had succeeded in booking a face-to-face meeting with him at a church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday
Man, 76, is arrested after Labour MP Chris Bryant received death threat on social media following killing of Sir David Amess
A pensioner has been arrested on suspicion of sending Labour MP Chris Bryant a death threat on the day after Sir David Amess was murdered in a suspected terror attack.
Mr Bryant, 59, whose constituency is Rhondda, was targeted after he posted on Twitter that people should consider being kinder in the wake of the tragedy.
The politician revealed he had been threatened later, adding: ‘You only have to look through some of the responses to this tweet to see the poison that is infecting British politics. And now I’ve had yet again another death threat.’
South Wales Police said a 76-year-old man from Pontycymer, near Bridgend, had been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.
A spokeswoman told MailOnline: ‘South Wales Police was called around 4.30pm on October 16 following reports of malicious communications being sent to a 59 year old man from Porth.
‘A 76 year old man from Pontycmer, Bridgend, has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications.’
He added: ‘There will be people who have worse abuse than me, and I particularly feel for the female MPs, and I know colleagues of mine who have come off, for example, Twitter because it’s just so vile. I have had three threats to life and limb over the last two years.’
Mr Raab stressed the significance of the Government’s Prevent anti-terror scheme but said he feels more at risk from ‘misguided or mentally unwell’ people.
He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: ‘I personally think I’m more at risk from those who are either misguided or mentally unwell than from a concerted, organised terrorist attack.
‘But Prevent is important.
‘It is one line of defence, one mitigation against the risks we face. Prevent is under review, it has been under iterative review throughout its existence; we will of course learn all the lessons as the result of that and this terrible, appalling case.’
The Try MP also said politicians deserve ‘maximum scrutiny’ but added traditional and social media have a role to play in reducing hate.
‘I think there has also been quite widespread vilification of politicians in the media,’ he added.
‘The constant – sometimes surreptitious, sometimes ostentatious – vilification of politicians creates the kind of climate in which these episodes take place.’
Amid the rise of online hate, the senior Tory said he could support closing anonymous social media accounts to tackle online hatred.
He raised concerns that he did not want to ‘send a message to tyrants all over the world that they can expose’ campaigners who need anonymity.
He told Sky News: ‘On balance I think there is a case for really looking very carefully at this.
‘I don’t see why people should be able to abuse the position on social media from a veil of anonymity.
The Home Secretary said ‘protection’ for MPs holding talks with constituents was one of a ‘spectrum’ of options being considered following the killing of Sir David Amess. Others include airport-style scanners to ensure visitors are unarmed.
Priti Patel hints police will guard MPs’ weekly surgeries and refuses to rule out ending anonymity on social media to curb threats
Priti Patel today insisted MPs must keep meeting voters as she hinted that police will guard weekly surgeries – and refused to rule out ending anonymity on social media to curb threats.
The Home Secretary said it would be unacceptable for the murder of Tory veteran David Amess to ‘break the link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them’.
She confirmed that security has already been ramped up since the deadly attack with politicians reminded to share their locations with police.
The government is looking at ensuring every MP gets officers on guard at their surgeries – a move backed by Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.
Ms Patel also said the government is ‘looking at’ whether there needs to be more action to stop threats and abuse being posted anonymously online.
However, Conservative MP Andrew Rosindell, a close friend of Sir David, lashed out at the police for ignoring threats.
Miss Patel said discussions were under way with MPs, who have all also been contacted by their local police forces. She told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme that MPs could be asked to share their whereabouts at all times with the police in a bid to keep them safe.
‘There are other options that are being considered, such as when you hold your surgeries could you have officers or some kind of protection?’ she said. ‘We need to close any gaps where we feel there are concerns. This isn’t a case of let’s wait for two weeks, three weeks, four weeks; these are immediate protective measures.’
But she was adamant that MPs should continue to be accessible to the public.
Former Cabinet minister David Davis told Sky News that suspending public meetings with MPs would be a ‘terrible reflection’ of what Sir David stood for, adding: ‘I don’t think we should do that. I don’t think David would either.’
Tory MP Alec Shelbrooke held a surgery at a supermarket this weekend, saying he would continue to do so even if he had to ‘add a few more precautions’.
He tweeted: ‘We cannot let events like this diminish the deep relationship between an MP and their constituents.’
It came as a Tory former Defence Minister doubled-down on his call for a temporary suspension of public meetings between MPs and their constituents this evening, as he warned ‘there could be a copycat-style attack’ following the killing of Sir David.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, urged a ‘pause in face-to-face’ consultations between parliamentarians and members of the public until a safety review had been completed in the wake of Sir David’s death on Friday.
His proposal was shot down by defiant Conservatives including former Cabinet minister David Davis. Labour’s Harriet Harman called for an official review of MPs’ safety, while ex-Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also rallied against ‘airport-style screening’ – but told the BBC she would support meeting constituents behind a screen to prevent possible stab attacks.
And Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted MPs must keep meeting voters, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it would be ‘unacceptable’ for the killing to ‘break the link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them’.
However, the killing of Sir David at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea as he met with Southend West constituents has prompted the Government to look at ensuring every MP gets police on guard at their weekly surgeries – a move backed by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
Speaking to Channel 4 this evening, Mr Ellwood doubled-down on his proposal, warning: ‘Ultimately we have to recognise that there could be a copycat-style attack. The police have already made that clear. So yes, absolutely, let’s stand up to the terrorists, let’s make sure that our lifestyles and the way we go about is not altered, that they do not win. But we need to do that in a cognitive way to make sure that MPs, staff and indeed the general public are kept safe.’
The MP for Bournemouth East, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017, also told the broadcaster that he had discussed the security implications of the withdrawal from Afghanistan for terrorism and extremism with Sir David last week as they visited Doha in Qatar.
Tobias Ellwood (left), the Tory chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, urged a ‘pause in face-to-face’ consultations between parliamentarians and members of the public until a safety review had been completed following the killing of Sir David Amess (right) by a suspected terrorist
Home Secretary Priti Patel insisted that MPs must keep meeting voters, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show this morning it would be ‘unacceptable’ for Sir David’s killing to ‘break the link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them’
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer join Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle as they pay their respects to Sir David
‘Nobody should die in that way. Nobody’: Family of murdered MP Sir David Amess say ‘our hearts are shattered’ – but urge people to ‘show love to all’ and support causes he championed in his memory so ‘some good can come from this tragedy’
The devastated family of Conservative MP Sir David Amess today said they are ‘absolutely broken’ by his killing, adding in an emotional statement: ‘As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way.’
In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, Sir David’s family said: ‘The family would like to thank everyone for the wonderful, wonderful tributes paid to David following his cruel and violent death. It truly has brought us so much comfort. The support shown by friends, constituents and the general public alike has been so overwhelming. As a family it has given us strength.
‘We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew. We are enormously proud of him. Our hearts are shattered. However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days. So, this is not the end of Sir David Amess MP. It is the next chapter and as a family we ask everyone to support the many charities he worked with. There are so many to mention, so find one close to your hearts and help.
‘David had recently joined a campaign to help raise funds for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn. To him she epitomised the strength and courage of our nation. We would ask as many people as possible to support this and meet the target to complete the project.
‘Closer to home, David was working hard for Southend to gain city status. In his memory, please show your support for this campaign. Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
‘Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand. As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Please let some good come from this tragedy. We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.
‘We ask at this time that the family’s privacy be respected so that we can grieve in private.’
Defiant MPs continued to hold constituency surgeries as normal on Saturday, while debate raged over whether Parliamentarians should be given police guards.
Mr Shelbrooke, Tory MP for Elmet and Rothwell, who held a surgery at a local supermarket yesterday, said: ‘We cannot let events like this diminish the deep relationship between an MP and their constituents.
‘This is a relationship I value deeply: I want my constituents, regardless of whether they voted for me or not, to be able to approach me in the street, in the pub, at the supermarket or at one of my surgeries.’
Mr Davis said suspending public meetings would be ‘a terrible reflection of what David stood for’. Mr Largan, Tory MP for High Peak, tweeted: ‘I’ll keep on doing my weekly surgery, all year round, whatever the weather! We all need to stand up for our democracy!’
And Dr Kieran Mullan, the Tory MP for Crewe and Nantwich, tweeted: ‘Surgery today, we must not let people force us to do things differently. David would not have wanted that.’
Meanwhile, the longest continuously serving female MP, Ms Harman, said she would be writing to the Prime Minister urging him to back a Speaker’s Conference to look into what needs to change to ensure parliamentarians are safe in their constituencies.
Speaking to the BBC, the veteran Labour politician said: ‘We cannot have the death of an MP being a price worth paying for our democracy.’
She added: ‘I don’t think anybody wants to go to a situation where the police are vetting individual constituents who come and see us, but I’m sure there is a safer way to go about our business.
‘Since Jo Cox’s tragic killing, we’ve had changes in our home security, we’ve had changes in security in Parliament, but we haven’t looked at the issue of how we go about that important business in our constituency, but do it in a safe way – and I think we must do that now.’
Conservative MP Kevin Foster, who represents Torbay, said it is ‘not practical’ to have airport-style security at MPs’ surgeries.
Defence minister James Heappey, the Conservative MP for Wells, echoed that sentiment, telling PA news agency: ‘Tweaks to security might be necessary but nothing can fundamentally change: those surgeries are foundations on which service as MP is delivered.’
Tory Harrow East MP Bob Blackman said he and his colleagues will now be ‘wary’ of what they do following Sir David’s death, but former universities minister Chris Skidmore – who represents Kingswood constituency – said it still felt ‘absolutely natural that I would continue to hold in-person events’.
That sentiment was mirrored on the Labour benches, with Hull East MP Karl Turner arguing against vetting who elected representatives see and that politicians had to accept there is a risk involved with their work.
‘I think you can do as much as you can possibly do but if a knife-wielding maniac bursts into your room, what can you do about that really?’ he told PA.
‘I think you’ve got to take the risk. I’m not pretending to be any kind of a hero, far from it, but I think it is a pretty bad deal if you can’t see your MP.’
Ms Abbott said she would support meeting constituents behind a screen to prevent possible stab attacks, but she too rallied against ‘airport-style screening’.
‘I would prefer going forward to meet constituents behind a screen, as we have now for Covid and so on – that might be quite complicated to arrange but at least you know someone’s not going to just lean over the desk and stab you, which could happen now,’ she told the BBC.
After the attack on Friday, police were said to be contacting all MPs to check on their security.
Writing in The Observer and the Mail on Sunday, Sir Lindsay said he was ‘working closely and at pace with the Home Office and the police’ to identify ways to improve MPs’ safety.
The attack came five-and-a-half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.