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Man who threatened to kill MP was let off after he told police it was a joke

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the former education minister
Dame Andrea Jenkyns said she had been repeatedly targeted with death threats - Leon Neal/Getty Images

A Conservative MP has revealed a man who roamed a high street threatening to kill her was let off by police after he “said it was a joke”.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, the former education minister, recalled a phone call from a member of her team in May 2022 urging her to avoid a constituency event because of somebody saying he wanted to blow her up.

The man was arrested later that day but West Yorkshire Police decided not to press charges.

Dame Andrea said: “I’ve had eight death threats over the years. I’ve had people rip my gates down at home. I was in the local hairdressers a couple of years ago and I got told to stay there because there was someone on the high street looking to kill me.

“The guy got let off because he said it was a joke. I had 70 emails from a constituent telling me to buy a stab vest, saying I’ve got a devil child… The police let him off with a caution. He said he’s bored and said he hates the Conservatives.”

It came as senior Tories called for increased security measures for MPs in the wake of pro-Palestine and climate activists targeting them at their offices and homes.

Sir Robert Buckland, who was the justice secretary from 2019-21, said his home was targeted in the pandemic and he now has security guards at his constituency surgeries.

“When I started, I just got on with it. Now you have to have a metaphorical eye behind you to make sure you are genuinely safe – that is appalling.

Robert Buckland was the justice secretary from 2019 to 2021
Robert Buckland has security guards at his constituency surgeries after his home was targeted by protesters during the pandemic - TOLGA AKMEN/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

“During lockdown, a group of anti-prison protesters who thought I should release every prisoner in this country because of Covid descended on my family home.

“We do need to step up efforts to make sure MPs are feeling protected, lest we have another David Amess or Jo Cox on our hands.”

Sir David Amess was murdered by an Islamist terrorist at his constituency surgery in 2021. Jo Cox was killed by a far-Right extremist in 2016.

James Sunderland, the last MP to see Sir David while he was alive, said threats to MPs’ safety had “got worse” during the war in Gaza, adding: “Do we have a problem? Yes. Are MPs at risk? Yes. I think there’s more to do.

“We’ve got to dial down the rhetoric, we’ve got to stop the personalised campaigning, particularly from the Left, and we’ve just got to make sure that we all respect each other.”

A Parliament source said MPs had received new security advice this week “in light of the recent protests around the situation in the Middle East” and a spike in online and in-person abuse.

A spokesman for West Yorkshire Police said the force took the security of MPs “extremely seriously”.

They added: “It should be noted that the force always fully investigates such incidents. We have and will continue to bring criminal cases to court where the evidence supports this course of action.”

David Amess
David Amess was murdered by an Islamist terrorist at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex in 2021 - RICHARD TOWNSHEND/AFP via Getty Images

A government source said: “It has not in any way enhanced MPs’ security to have Parliament be pushed around in terms of what they can and cannot vote on.

“The first thing we should do is have a Parliament which is robust enough to withstand external pressures and threats. Labour’s motives were to avoid a massive rebellion.

“[Sir Keir] Starmer has used this whole issue as a ploy to avoid a very, very heavy defeat because he’s got a very split party. His actions were worrying and showed his weakness.”

Chris Philp, the policing minister, said: “The Speaker made a terrible and profound misjudgment, apparently at the private urging of Sir Keir Starmer who was seeking to avoid a politically embarrassing situation. The pair of them are equally culpable.”