'Appalling' online abuse targeted at MPs

George Freeman

George Freeman, MP for Mid-Norfolk. - Credit: Richard Townshend Photography

A Norfolk MP has slammed the appalling abuse he and his colleagues deal with online.

George Freeman, MP for Mid Norfolk, said the abuse that MPs receive on social media is a real issue as they aim to operate in the political landscape.

He raised concern over the threats female MPs are receiving in particular.

He said: “The level of abuse on social media has become appalling: Especially the commonplace threats of physical violence all too often aimed at women MPs like the threats of political rape.

Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, has sadly died after being stabbed at his constituency surgery today (October 15)

Sir David Amess MP died on Friday. - Credit: HM Government

“The real key to a safer society is tackling the online dark web grooming of extremism, strengthening mental health provision, better disruption of radicalisation and a more tolerant culture in society and politics.”

Mr Freeman was speaking in the wake of the fatal stabbing of Essex MP Sir David Amess, who was killed at his constituency surgery on October 15.

Flowers and tributes left at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-

Flowers and tributes left at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery on Friday. - Credit: PA

He highlighted that after the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 MPs have changed their surgery routines such as never publicising venues.

He added: “Unless there’s a specific threat I would be uncomfortable with constituency MPs having police protection.”

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He said there should be a review into the safety of staff, but that surgeries were vitally important to hold.

(left to right) Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, Prime Minis

Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington, Labour Party leader Keir Starmer, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, and Speaker of the House Sir Lindsay Hoyle carry flowers to the scene of Sir David Amess death. - Credit: PA

“The savage murder of another fellow MP is deeply shocking,” he said.

“Of course, we should review the safety of our staff to avoid the highest risks (like advertising surgery venues publicly), but public accessibility is a cornerstone of our parliamentary accountability.

“I strongly believe constituency MPs must be accessible to the people we represent.”

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