Byrne warned of “possible threat” to his life and those of his family and staff

Katie Neame
© David Woolfall/CC BY 3.0

Labour’s Ian Byrne has revealed that he was warned about a “possible threat” to his life and the lives of his family and office staff in what he described as a “sobering reminder” of the dangers faced by those working in the public eye.

In a statement today, the Labour MP for Liverpool West Derby said: “In June, I was contacted regarding a possible threat to the life of myself, family and office staff.

“A far-right extremist who had been posting vile threats to the Jewish community on extremist websites had also posted comments about the murder of Sir David Amess MP, saying he would not be the last MP to die. The individual was then photographed outside my office in West Derby.”

The statement continued: “I would like to place on record my sincere thanks to the organisations from the Jewish community who flagged this threat to me and to the counter-terrorism unit in parliament.

“Their support has been excellent throughout this worrying episode, as has that of Merseyside Police who have offered security guidance to help assuage our very real fears.”

Byrne said his office would recommence face-to-face surgeries from September, but added: “The security of my team must be paramount, and our previous procedures will sadly need to change.”

The Labour backbencher concluded his statement by saying: “Once again, thank you to all involved in supporting myself, family and staff during a difficult time. This is a sobering reminder of the dangers faced by all who work in the public eye for a society free from division and hate.”

Sir David Amess, who had been the long-standing Conservative MP for Southend West, died in October after being stabbed multiple times at his constituency surgery in Essex. His attacker has since been found guilty of murder.

He was the second MP in five years to have died after a violent attack at an advice surgery for constituents. Jo Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered by a white supremacist in a shooting and stabbing in 2016 at her surgery.

Lindsay Hoyle, the House of Commons Speaker, said in response to the death of Amess that MPs’ security should be examined and safety measures taken.

Labour MP Stephen Timms survived an attack in 2010, when an Islamist extremist student booked an appointment to see him at a constituency advice surgery. The individual was later convicted of attempted murder.

Parliamentary assistant Andrew Pennington was killed in 2000 while trying to protect Nigel Jones who was at the time serving as the Liberal Democrat MP for Cheltenham. The attack also took place at a constituency advice surgery.

Several Labour MPs have expressed their support for Byrne on Twitter including Jarrow MP Kate Osborne, who tweeted: “I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had to deal with this. My best wishes and solidarity go to you, your team and your family, Ian.”

City of Durham MP Mary Kelly Foy said: “Oh Ian, this is awful [and] wholly unacceptable. Sending solidarity & best wishes to you, your family [and] team.”

MP for Brent Central Dawn Butler tweeted: “Solidarity to you Ian. You are an excellent MP. I’m proud that Brent has adopted your right to food campaign. I hope that the national Labour Party supports you. And sorts out any issues in your [Constituency Labour Party]. Parliament needs more MPs like you.”

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