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A Labour MP fled her home in the middle of the night with her children after she dialled 999 following “an immediate firearms threat”, a court heard.
Naz Shah , who is shadow minister for community cohesion, was speaking after Sundas Alam, 30, admitted a number of charges at York Crown Court on Thursday relating to sending death threats to the Bradford West MP.
She said she had had many death threats before, but this was the first time she had dialled 999 because “I really genuinely felt it was an immediate firearms threat”.
The Telegraph & Argus reported said the messages included phrases such as “you are going to die this week coming” and “you won’t see your children” as well as sexual threats and insults.
Ms Shah said that what made Alam’s threats worse was that she used cloned email addresses which led to an innocent family being dragged out of their beds by armed police and questioned for 20 hours by officers responding to her alert in April.
“I can’t imagine what they went through,” the MP told the PA news agency.
But she said: “It won’t stop me doing what I do.”
She added: “I’m just grateful to West Yorkshire Police, really.
“It’s really close to home. We’ve lost two colleagues in the last five years.”
She added: “I’ve never had to call 999 before, this was the first time.
“It was the length of time between one email and the other. I was thinking ‘this is somebody stewing, this is somebody stewing for so many hours’ and actually saying ‘how do you want this rifle to your head or through the window’.”
She said she thought: “Are you telling me you’re outside my house?”
“At the time it was really, really real,” Ms Shah said.
The MP said she stayed in her home while she waited for the police, but made sure her children were taken to a safe place.
She said: “I’ve got a thick skin and I just carry on with it but my kids and my family do worry. That causes more concern.”
Ms Shah said: “I’m just glad it’s over now and I can get back to doing my job.
“It’s never nice and you should never have to get used to it, and you should never get used to people threatening your family. It shouldn’t be a pre-requisite for doing the job.”
She said: “It won’t stop me doing what I do.”
— Naz Shah MP 💙 (@NazShahBfd) October 28, 2021
In a statement Ms Shah said: “Having lost two colleagues in the space of 5 years, death threats are close to home. I welcome the review of security measures for MP’s that the Home Secretary has committed to.
“The mental and emotional harm extends to those around us including our families and our staff teams.
“It is important that we don’t allow a culture to build where threats, abuse and attacks on Members of Parliament and our staff becomes normalised.
“In this instance an innocent family was also arrested in the middle of the night and questioned by police.”
York Crown Court confirmed that Alam, of of Princeville Street, Bradford, admitted three counts of sending malicious communications and one of perverting the course of justice part-way through her trial.
She was remanded in custody and will be sentenced on November 29.
In August 2019, Stewart Hanson, 57, of The Woodlands, Tranmere, was jailed for 12 weeks after sending offensive emails to Ms Shah.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said his thoughts were with Ms Shah and her family “for all that they have had to endure”.
“Nobody should have to put up with threats like this,” he said. “Sadly it’s the reality for too many in public life.”