Man guilty of threatening ‘traitor’ Labour MP Peter Kyle with makeshift gallows and noose outside Parliament

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 (PA)
(PA)

An MP has described the “chilling” horror of hearing his name being called across Parliament Square by an anti-lockdown protestor holding up a makeshift gallows.

Peter Kyle, the Labour MP for Hove, was walking back to his office at Portcullis House when he encountered 57-year-old Lance O’Connor, who told him: “This is what we do to traitors.”

The MP, 51, told Westminster magistrates court politicians were on high alert on October 20 last year, less than a week after the murder of his Parliamentary colleague Sir David Amess.

He recalled an “angry shout” of his name by O’Connor, and looked over to see “a man standing there holding gallows with a noose in Parliament Square”.

Anti-lockdown protestor Lance O’Connor is convicted of harassing MP Peter Kyle with a makeshift noose (PA)
Anti-lockdown protestor Lance O’Connor is convicted of harassing MP Peter Kyle with a makeshift noose (PA)

“When I looked briefly the first time I did not quite take it in. It was only when I continued walking that the impact of what I had seen struck me”, he said.

“The word ‘traitor’ was being used and then, when I looked across the road again, a man said ‘This is what we do with traitors’.”

The politician said he saw O’Connor point up at the noose, and he considered the incident “a direct threat to myself and a direct threat to other members of Parliament”.

“I was shocked, I was chilled, I was threatened,” he added. “There was an atmosphere around Westminster that was chilling so to see that was horrifying.”

Anti-lockdown protestor Lance O’Connor is convicted of harassing MP Peter Kyle with a makeshift noose (PA)
Anti-lockdown protestor Lance O’Connor is convicted of harassing MP Peter Kyle with a makeshift noose (PA)

O’Connor, who denied causing harassment, alarm, or distress to the MP, said he was outside the Houses of Parliament to protest against Covid lockdown powers.

He claimed not to know that Mr Kyle was an MP, telling the court: “I had never seen him before. I do not watch anything to do with Parliament.”

He claimed that Mr Kyle had come up to him and asked: “Do you think that is appropriate?”

O’Connor said: “I pointed across the road at the Palace of Westminster and said ‘What I think is inappropriate is the draconian measures the people in Parliament have made’.”

He also said he built the object “as a statement to the Government that treason is still punishable by the gallows”.

Peter Kyle  (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)
Peter Kyle (Liam McBurney/PA) (PA Wire)

After a short trial, District Judge Neeta Minhas found O’Connor guilty and handed him a 12-month conditional discharge.

The protestor, who was accompanied to court by supporters including Covid sceptic Piers Corbyn, was also ordered him to pay £200 in compensation to Mr Kyle.

“I make the finding that he was caused harm, alarm or distress by your behaviour, by the gallows”, said the judge.

Lance O’Connor and Piers Corbyn at Westminster magistrates court (PA)
Lance O’Connor and Piers Corbyn at Westminster magistrates court (PA)

“I make the finding that there can be no other reason while holding these gallows and directing them towards a Member of Parliament save to cause harassment, alarm or distress.”

O’Connor, from Plaistow, east London, called the verdict a “complete travesty” and indicated he intends to mount an appeal. He used a walking stick with a noose attached on his entry to court.

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