After the murders of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess, Jo’s sister Kim Leadbeater joins forces with dozens of fellow MPs to highlight the abuse, deaths threats and intimidation they still face
The sister of murdered Jo Cox has joined forces with more than 50 victimised MPs to highlight terrifying abuse by strangers.
Kim Leadbeater uncovered harrowing testimonies for a TV documentary as MPs seek better protection.
She fears MPs are being influenced by fear of retribution when voting in Parliament, putting democracy under threat.
Labour MP Naz Shah revealed she has received several death threats and has even told her family what to do if she is murdered. The Bradford West MP admits: “We really have morbid conversations, you know, if I ever lost my life.”
Tory Peter Bone “can’t remember a week where there hasn’t been a serious incident investigated by the police”. Jess Phillips, Shadow Minister for Safeguarding and Domestic Violence, gets “thousands” of abusive messages a year.
Fellow Labour MP Chris Bryant forwarded threatening emails to police on the same day he was interviewed by Kim. One read: “I hope you get hit by a bus, and your b**ch mother for giving birth to a creature like you.”
Labour colleague Debbie Abrahams had a window smashed at her office on the day she spoke to Kim.
Tory Caroline Noakes says one of her first jobs is to go through overnight emails and delete abusive ones. She says: “So, this morning we have an email commenting on the size of my backside, which I’m not sure is contributing an awful amount to the political debate.”
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Southend West MP Sir David, 69, was killed at a constituency surgery. Kim says: “It was a dreadful day, horrific. Triggering to when Jo was killed, not just for me, but for family, friends, the community, and disbelief it could happen again.
“And those emotions of hearing that an MP had been attacked, praying they would be okay then hearing that they weren’t. With terrorism, you never know if this is part of a broader organisation or operation? It shook me, mum and dad, my partner, my family, friends.
“But your experience pales into insignificance compared to what Sir David’s family would have been experiencing.”
She sent a card to the Tory’s family, saying: “If ever you need anything I’m here. The doors are open.”
Kim adds: “There are no words in those circumstances. They’ll still be in shock. I’m still in shock six years down the line, that doesn’t go. What kind of country do we want to live in where we’ve got elected officials who are scared, intimidated, who are threatened – because that affects democracy.
“MPs have said, ‘I’ve had to think about how I’m going to vote because I know if I vote like that, I’m going to get loads of abuse and potentially threats and potentially feel unsafe. It’s a far-reaching problem with far-reaching repercussions.”
Sir David was killed by fanatic Ali Harbi Ali, who was fuelled by Islamic State propaganda. Ali was jailed for life.
Kim represents Batley and Spen – the Yorkshire constituency where mother-of-two Jo, 41, was shot and stabbed in 2016. Her killer, far-right terrorist Thomas Mair, was jailed for life.
A parliamentary security spokesman said: “It is a fundamental principle of democracy that members and their staff are able to perform their parliamentary duties safely.
“We have updated MPs about changes we will bring to keeping MPs safe, that build on the current robust security measures in place.”
MPs Under Threat: Dispatches, is on Channel 4 on Monday, at 7.30pm.