Former Minister says family more aware of security in recent years

A former Cabinet Minister has said that his family has become increasingly aware of events around them in recent years as concerns about threats to MPs safety have increased.

The killing of Sir David Amess in October 2021 came just five years after the murder of Yorkshire MP Jo Cox, and has reignited discussions over whether enough is being done to keep politicians and their families safe from harm.

Meanwhile, other Parliamentarians have been involved with court cases after significant threats to them or their homes have been intercepted, and in the last two years, more than 100 cases of harassment or stalking were reported in the Parliamentary Estate in Westminster.

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Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls has reflected on how the situation has changed in the near-five years since he left Parliament after losing his Morley and Outwood seat in the 2017 General Election, and said there is “a lot more security” in his house now than previously.

Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls (Getty)Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls (Getty)
Former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls (Getty)

Mr Balls, who is married to Shadow Home Secretary and MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford Yvette Cooper, also recalled when news broke over the attack on Sir David.

Mr Balls told The Yorkshire Post: “The thing that has changed was that move from being people looking at you and taking photographs or the media, to worrying that there might be people who had more nasty intentions.

“And so I think we’ve become more spatially aware of what’s going on around us, especially when we’re with Yvette.

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“And then of course, in the house, there’s a lot more security. The only way to deal with it is to not allow it to change anything you do.”

He added: “In the in the hour when the news broke about David Amess, Yvette at the time was walking in Castleford town centre.

“I rang her and spoke to her, and she said, ‘I’m not going to run back to the office, this is what I do. And they’re not going to stop me from being in my constituency’.”

Sir David, the MP for Southend West, was killed at a constituency surgery on October 15 last year, as he prepared to meet members of the community he had served for decades.

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Ali Harbi Ali is accused of murdering the Conservative MP during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.

The 25-year-old is also charged with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1, 2019, and September 28, 2021.

He entered not guilty pleas to the charges at a hearing before Mr Justice Sweeney at the Old Bailey in December. A trial is expected to be held in March this year.

Sir David’s death was the second killing of an MP in the space of just five years, after Ms Cox was murdered in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire in 2016.

The 41-year-old mother-of-two had been the Labour MP for the constituency for just over a year when she was shot and stabbed by Thomas Mair – a social recluse – in Birstall in West Yorkshire.