MP Rosie Cooper condemns ITV over decision to turn murder plot against her into ‘stupid’ drama

Labour MP Rosie Cooper has criticised ITV’s decision to turn a plot to murder her into a ‘stupid, stupid, stupid’ drama series (Handout/PA) (PA Media)
Labour MP Rosie Cooper has criticised ITV’s decision to turn a plot to murder her into a ‘stupid, stupid, stupid’ drama series (Handout/PA) (PA Media)

Labour MP Rosie Cooper has criticised ITV’s decision to turn a plot to murder her into a “stupid, stupid, stupid” drama series.

The MP for West Lancashire also accused the broadcaster and anti-fascism campaign group Hope not hate (Hnh) of using her as a “marketing tool”.

She urged ITV and the advocacy group to donate all the money generated from the TV series to the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.

The drama, which started last month, stars Stephen Graham as Hope Not Hate activist Matthew Collins, who got a tip-off in 2017 about the threat to Ms Cooper.

That led to the arrest and jailing of a neo-Nazi who had bought a machete to kill the West Lancashire MP.

She said in the Commons: “I am appalled at ITV’s recent treatment of the threats to MPs.

“I have been used as a marketing tool by both Hope not hate and ITV. What excuse is there for a press release that says ‘Who is Rosie Cooper, and who wanted to murder her?’

“There is no defence to that. So, let’s test the public defence, the public interest defence, to their despicable behaviour and I call on Hope not hate and ITV to donate all money and profits generated from this TV series, both here and abroad, every single penny should go to the Jo Cox Foundation.

“We should not tolerate this kind of behaviour.”

Referring to previous death threats, she said: “How many more will come from this stupid, stupid, stupid series?”

What advice can you give to Members in this situation to ensure that the facts are fairly presented, that threats on the lives of our colleagues are not treated as entertainment ... and that these series do not risk re-victimising those of us still living under significant threat from life?

Alicia Kearns, Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman

Her comments came after the Conservative chairwoman of the Foreign Affairs Committee raised a point of order in the Commons, asking the Speaker for advice on how to ensure that “threats on the lives of our colleagues are not treated as entertainment”.

Alicia Kearns said: “ITV has made a drama series about the heinous plan to murder the honourable lady for West Lancashire (Rosie Cooper), whose permission I have to make this point of order.

“What advice can you give to Members in this situation to ensure that the facts are fairly presented, that threats on the lives of our colleagues are not treated as entertainment … and that these series do not risk re-victimising those of us still living under significant threat from life?”

Sir Lindsay replied: “The House will know that the safety of members, our families and our staff in this House is one of my highest priorities.

“Like all Members of this House, however, I would have thought that any depiction of threats made against parliamentarians is undertaken responsibly, based on the facts, and mindful of the impact of those subject to those such threats.”

The series was announced in September on the same day Ms Cooper announced she was standing down as MP for West Lancashire.

The ITV drama centred on informant Robbie Mullen, his handler at Hnh Mr Collins, and how the organisation infiltrated banned far-right terror group National Action (NA) and prevented the attack on Ms Cooper in 2017.

Mr Mullen, a former member of NA, spent a prolonged time undercover as a mole for Hnh.

His information about the plot and the activities of NA was passed on to the police and resulted in a high-profile trial at the Old Bailey.

Jack Renshaw, now 27, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, is currently serving a life sentence for preparing acts of terrorism.

The plot to kill Ms Cooper came just a year after the terrorist murder of Ms Cox.

ITV and Hope not hate have been approached for comment.