Mike Freer quits Parliament over death threats, abuse

The Conservative representative declares it “open season” on public servants and calls for more action to address social media abuse.

A Conservative minister, stepping down from Parliament due to numerous death threats and abuse, has said, “At some point, one has to simply say ‘enough.'”

Mike Freer has served as the representative for Finchley and Golders Green in the House of Commons since 2010. He mentioned that “the level of risk has become intolerable.”

He also said his family had not been treated fairly, seeing him “go about your job in a stab vest for some of your duties.”

Furthermore, he called on social media companies to tackle the root cause of the problem, arguing that the platforms “give people permission to feel as though they have open season on their public servants.”

On Wednesday, Mr. Freer announced his decision to leave the House of Commons, with the arson attack on his North London constituency office in December being “the final straw.”

This event was the latest in a series of incidents, including a “narrow miss” with the murderer of Sir David Amess, a fellow Southend MP.

“The man who went on to kill Sir David first came to Finchley,” Mr. Freer revealed. “Also, the mere fact that Boris Johnson reassigned me to a different role on that day meant I was in Westminster, not Finchley [that day]; it was sheer luck.”

If he hadn’t threatened me with guns and said he’d come to Finchley armed, I’d have been targeted.

“The final straw”

“Every Member of Parliament has to put up with some abuse, most of it minor, like rude emails, graffiti, or verbal abuse,” Mr. Freer continued. That’s almost become routine.

But after two or three serious threats to my lifeโ€”that was bad enough and certainly made me thinkโ€”then another close callโ€”the arson attack was beyond what I could accept.

Mr. Freer described the harassment and threats as “a problem” because of the uncertainty of “what could happen next.”

He described Muslims Against Crusades’ illegal intrusion into his office and protests outside.

Furthermore, our homes and offices often have to be fortified, Mr. Freer added.

“However, we’re vulnerable walking on the street, going to the shop, and during much of our constituency work.”

That’s exactly where the biggest risk is; you can’t know for sure what’s around the corner.

While grateful for the increased security for MPs, the minister said it didn’t “get to the point.”

“My big worry is social media; it has a lot to answer for,” the MP said. “It emboldens and allows people to voice and act out aggressively with little consequence.”

It seems that reporting to social media gets no response; that’s what needs addressing.

Instead of only increasing security, we must prevent radicalization and public worker abuse.

“Comes with the territory”

Labour veteran Dame Margaret Hodge also spoke on Thursday, revealing that in 1976, as a local councillor, she received her first death threat.

She said, “A man was threatening me with an axe. So, a bit of this always comes with the territory.”

She also revealed she was “on the list” of people targeted in the 2010 stabbing of Labour MP Stephen Timms and had received a death threat that day.

On Mr. Freer’s resignation, Dame Margaret said, “It’s sad and shocking but not surprising when you’re under the kind of threats he’s been. It’s understandable why he’s putting his family first.

She agreed on social media issues, adding, My MP campaign before the 2010 election was unpleasant.

“But social media wasn’t around, so it was just phone, letters, and emails.” It was more controllable.

With social media, it’s become so instant, frightening, and horrible.

The Labour MP acknowledged, “There are steps we can take, like stopping anonymous posting on platforms.” But she emphasized, “There has to be the will to take those steps.”

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