Police probe over 50 cases of hate crime against MPs

Jo Cox, who was killed in Birstall last year.
Jo Cox, who was killed in Birstall last year.
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A SPECIALIST police team set up to investigate crimes against MPs has probed more than 50 complaints in the six months after the murder of Jo Cox.

Cases of hate-filled messages, harassment and criminal damage were reported to the Met’s Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team between last August until early February this year.

The squad received 33 reports of malicious communications –which can include Twitter trolling – 13 reports of theft, three reports of harassment and four allegations of criminal damage.

The figures, obtained using the Freedom of Information Act, come amid mounting concern that MPs are facing unprecedented levels of abuse online.

Late last year, it emerged that nearly £640,000 was spent on bolstering security for MPs in the wake of the killing of Mrs Cox, who was shot and stabbed by neo-Nazi Thomas Mair on June 16, just days before the EU referendum.

York Labour MP Rachael Maskell received threats from people with far-right views and had a picture of a body with a severed head mailed to her in the wake of her colleague’s murder.

She said: “It is the vile views of individuals who at one point indicated that I should be next to be murdered after Jo Cox. It was highly unpleasant but you find your mechanisms of dealing with these things. I think I was in such shock over what happened to Jo Cox – her family were very much in the forefront of my mind – that seemed to overwhelm everything. So, in some ways I was probably slightly removed. I was just in shock.”

Ms Maskell, who was elected to Parliament in 2015, said she had no idea being an MP would open her up to such “detestable” abuse.

And she fears the vitriol aimed particularly at female MPs could put other women off standing for Parliament. She said: “We already know that fewer women than men are in Parliament, fewer women put themselves forward to be in Parliament, and therefore we already have those inequalities built up for a range of reasons. And this is another layer. It has obviously hit across gender but there has been a particular focus on women.”

Comment: Page 10.