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Heidi Allen tells how she feared for her life as an MP in wake of death of Sir David Amess



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Former South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen said that she had been terrified by death threats during her time in Parliament and was “not surprised” by the death of Tory MP Sir David Amess, who was stabbed while at work.

“After the dreadful news that he had been killed, my overriding thought was, well, I’m not surprised it’s happened again, because it was always going to happen again,” said Ms Allen, who stood down from her own role after receiving abuse.

Ms Allen told the Cambridge Independent she was called a “traitor” over her pro-Remain views, threatened with Novichok poisoning, and had a photograph of her house put on Facebook by a man claiming he was buying a rope to use on the scaffold outside her home.

Former South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen Picture: Keith Heppell
Former South Cambridgeshire MP Heidi Allen Picture: Keith Heppell

She added that before the murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox by a far-right extremist in 2016, she had been “blissfully naive” about the dangers MPs faced at work.

Speaking in the wake of Sir David’s killing, Ms Allen warned: “MPs have to be on guard at all times.

“Jo and David were such different people, from different parts of the country, different parties with different outlooks, so you couldn’t say that there was any common theme at all. But that just shows how MPs put themselves in a very dangerous situation, every single day.”

Sir David Amess, a father of five, was stabbed 17 times as he met with his Southend West constituents on Friday afternoon last week.

A candle and a photo of Sir David Amess greeted mourners at a vigil in Essex. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA (52526902)
A candle and a photo of Sir David Amess greeted mourners at a vigil in Essex. Picture: Kirsty O’Connor/PA (52526902)

Ali Harbi Ali, 25, from London, has since been charged with Sir David Amess’ murder and preparing acts of terrorism, the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said.

Ms Allen served as the Member of Parliament for South Cambridgeshire from 2015 to 2019. When she left the Conservative Party to challenge their stance on Brexit and create the Change UK party, Ms Allen says she and other women MPs who joined her received a torrent of abuse.

“I remember about the poison Novichok, saying: ‘You don’t know when it’s coming’ and there was lots of inflammatory language: bitch, traitor...”

But the worst moment was discovering someone in her village had posted photos of her house on Facebook telling everyone there was scaffolding outside her home and that “he had ordered a yellow jacket, he just needed to get some rope now and suggested that the others did the same”.

Flowers and tributes at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA (52526905)
Flowers and tributes at the scene near Belfairs Methodist Church. Picture: Aaron Chown/PA (52526905)

Arriving home that day, she had been unaware of what was happening until she found there were police in the house and a police helicopter hovering above.

“It was absolutely terrifying because that felt very real, close and personal. Somebody was saying where we lived and basically inciting people to come and find me,” she said.

In the months that followed she “slept with the panic button on my bed and woke up at the slightest noise in our old house”.

Ms Allen gave up jogging for fear of being followed and attacked: “I was always looking over my shoulder, picking busy carriages on the Tube or the train going into London. It just changed my whole demeanour and I wasn’t relaxed at all unless I was at home with Phil, or inside Westminster; it was the bits in between when I just felt vulnerable and quite isolated.”

The last straw came when she opened an email from a constituent saying “I definitely wouldn’t have voted for you if I’d known you’d murdered a baby.”

MP Heidi Allen during a Q&A, Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell.
MP Heidi Allen during a Q&A, Cambourne Village College. Picture: Keith Heppell.

Ms Allen said: “I’d previously spoken in Parliament about my abortion when we were trying to change the law in Northern Ireland.

“My initial reaction was to stick the email in the trash and then I just thought, hang on a minute, there is literally nowhere left for me to go. I was fair game. People could attack me on personal things and on policy things. I just felt utterly stripped bare, like there was no human hiding space left. And I just thought that’s enough now, I can’t do it any more. My husband and I literally made the decision in the car. It was as quick as that.”

Cambridgeshire MPs have paid tribute to Conservative MP Sir David Amess. Serving South Cambridgeshire MP Conservative Anthony Browne said his death was “devastating news”. He added: “Sir David was such a friendly, kind-hearted man. My thoughts are with his family and staff at this time. It is a loss for Parliament and for the country, and an attack on democracy.”

In a statement, Cambridge Labour MP Daniel Zeichner said: “Sir David and I were from different parties and held different views. But there was common ground as well, and we worked closely on animal welfare issues, and often chatted in the lift together. I liked him very much and will miss him so. This is a very sad day for everyone who knew David, and it is important to note also that attacks like this make it even harder for our democracy to work effectively.

“My thoughts and prayers are with David’s family at this most difficult of times.”

Read more:

Heidi Allen won’t stand in General Election after experiencing ‘nastiness and intimidation’

Heidi Allen MP: jailing of troll sends a ‘powerful message’



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