Minister too scared to carry on as MP after death threats and arson attack

Politics

A government minister who avoided being murdered “by the skin of my teeth” is stepping down as an MP at the next general election over fears for his personal safety.

Mike Freer, Conservative MP for the north London constituency of Finchley and Golders Green, has faced a series of death threats and was targeted by Ali Harbi Ali – the man who stabbed Southend West MP Sir David Amess to death in 2021.

The justice minister said the “final straw” was an attempted arson attack on his constituency office in December.

The office of  Mike Freer MP  
Pic:Mike Freer
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An arson attack was carried out on Mike Freer’s office in December. Pic: Mike Freer

In an interview with the Daily Mail, he said: “There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much.”

He and his staff, he said, have started wearing stab vests at scheduled public events in his constituency after learning that Ali had watched his Finchley office before killing Sir David at a constituency surgery.

Mr Freer said: “I was very lucky that actually on the day [of Ali’s attempted attack] I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall.

“Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me.”

More on Ali Harbi Ali

MPs, he said, try to “make light” of threats, but that it remained at the back of his mind that he could have been killed.

Mr Freer said he had also received threats from the group Muslims Against Crusades “about coming to stab me” and found “mock Molotov cocktails on the office steps”.

Mike Freer office
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An arson attack was carried out on Mike Freer’s office in December. Pic: Mike Freer

Police in London are investigating a suspected arson attack at the office of Conservative MP Mike Freer
Pic:@BallardsLane
Image:
Pic:@BallardsLane

The MP, who has pro-Israel views and represents a heavily Jewish constituency, said “I don’t think we can divorce” antisemitism from the intimidation.

He has represented the seat, which he won by around 6,600 votes at the last general election, since 2010, beating the Liberal Democrats.

Mr Freer joins a series of MPs who have said they will be stepping down at the next election, which is expected later this year.

Labour’s candidate in Finchley and Golders Green, Sarah Sackman, said she was “shocked” by the news, adding: “We should have been able to face each other in the polls based on our ideas and merits.

“Instead, politics is now so often skewed by violent language, hate and the dangers of social media.”

Tory former minister Sir Conor Burns tweeted: “Totally understandable decision. The drip drip of hate (not exclusively from people on the other side) and remorseless cynicism will drive more people out of politics.”

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