UK Justice Secretary Dominic Raab reveals death threats

Cabinet minister speaks out after fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess on Friday

Britain's Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has said three threats to his life have been made in the past two years as he discussed the issue of MPs’ security after the killing of Sir David Amess.

The former foreign secretary said he felt more threatened by “misguided or mentally unwell” individuals than organised terrorist groups.

His admission came as Labour MP Chris Bryant said police had arrested a man over a death threat emailed to him after the fatal stabbing of Amess.

The attack on Amess, which police have declared a terrorist incident, has sparked a debate on the wider issue of MPs’ security.

Asked about the possibility of MPs wearing stab-proof vests, Mr Raab 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 had been an “intervention” in relation to the threat.

Other suggestions being put forward include sending plainclothes officers to accompany MPs when they hold constituency surgeries and setting up metal detectors to screen people on entry.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who tried to save the life of murdered PC Keith Palmer during the Westminster terrorist attack in 2017, called for meetings to be stopped for the foreseeable future.

The chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee said that until Home Secretary Priti Patel has completed her review of MPs’ security, “I would recommend a temporary pause in face-to-face meetings”.

Mr Raab told BBC Breakfast that police had taken action over three threats made against him in the past two years.

“I have had three threats to life and limb over the last two years,” he said, and that “all resulted in an intervention”.

He said that media and social media organisations had a crucial role to play in how politicians are portrayed.

“I think there has also been quite widespread vilification of politicians in the media,” he said.

“The constant – sometimes surreptitious, sometimes ostentatious – vilification of politicians creates the kind of climate in which these episodes take place.”

Mr Raab, who was sacked as foreign secretary in September, spoke extensively on the topic of politicians’ safety in a series of interviews on Monday morning.

He said politicians deserved “maximum scrutiny” but any new measures would be have to be tailored to individual MPs and their needs.

He stressed the importance for parliamentarians to be able to meet their constituents face-to-face.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Raab stressed the importance of the government’s Prevent anti-terrorist scheme.

His comments came after reports suggested the man arrested on suspicion of murdering Amess had previously been referred to Prevent over concerns he had become radicalised.

“I personally think I’m more at risk from those who are either misguided or mentally unwell than from a concerted, organised terrorist attack,” he said.

“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 Amess family released a statement on Sunday evening through London's Metropolitan Police saying they were "absolutely broken" by the death of the 69-year-old father of five.

“As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody," they said.

They called for unity among the British public in the aftermath the attack and said people should "be tolerant" of others, regardless of their race, religion or political beliefs.

Meanwhile, Mr Bryant said he checked his emails after arriving back in the UK on Sunday from a trip to Qatar and, “the first message in my inbox was this death threat, pretty clear, so I notified the police and they have taken action”.

“I can’t tell you much because the police have arrested this chap,” he said.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he remained defiant and said he would not be cowed by the death threat.

"I'm passionate about wanting to change the world and nobody's going to stop me,” said the MP for Rhondda in Wales.

Updated: October 18th 2021, 11:27 AM
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