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Jonathan Ashworth 'sought refuge in vicarage' after being 'chased down street' in election campaign of 'bullying'

10 July 2024, 19:59 | Updated: 10 July 2024, 20:42

Supporter of the MP who unseated the former Labour MP is charged with terrorism offences

By Emma Soteriou

Jonathan Ashworth has revealed he was forced to seek refuge in a vicarage after being chased down the street during the General Election campaign.

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Speaking in his first interview since losing his seat, Mr Ashworth told Andrew Marr he had “never known a campaign of such vitriol, such bullying, such intimidation".

He said during the General Election campaign he was "chased down the street" and "shouted at and screamed at for 40, 45 minutes".

Mr Ashworth added that he was forced to "seek refuge in a vicarage" at one point.

He said he "worried about [his] family and children" sharing that he was "campaigning with [his] 10-year-old because she wanted to help Daddy on Election Day and one of these loud mouths shouted at me that I was Genocide Jon, and everybody despised me".

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Jonathan Ashworth
Jonathan Ashworth. Picture: Alamy

"I've been immensely proud to represent a diverse constituency in Leicester where I've been immensely proud for 13 years to have been able to walk into any mosque, any Hindu temple, any gurdwara, but I have never known a campaign of such vitriol, such bullying, such intimidation built on the foul and obnoxious lie that I was responsible for genocide," Mr Ashworth said.

"That I had the blood of Gazan children on my hands. This is the campaign that was run by a minority of bullies, and loud mouths.

"This is not representative of the many, many Muslim constituents I was proud to represent. This is not Muslim values.

"And look, a campaign was organised nationally by a national organisation called The Muslim Vote, whose campaign was clear on their website, punish MPs... It wasn't we want to effect change on a set of policy issues.

"Many of the policy issues I fought on whether that's calling for a ceasefire, calling for Palestinian statehood, calling for student finance arrangements for Muslim young people in my constituency.

"Punish MPs is what the national The Muslim Vote organisation talked about."

Jonathan Ashworth says he will 'stand up to bullies' after being targeted during General Election campaign

Mr Ashworth continued: "I was chased down the street, shouted at and screamed at for 40, 45 minutes, so I had to seek refuge literally in a vicarage.

"And they waited for me outside the vicarage. And even when I came out the vicarage, they were shouting at me with megaphones.

"There were leaflets going around, accusing me of being Genocide Jon, anonymous leaflets, all in the name of the successful candidate who won't be able to do anything, who will stand exposed and impotent, not able to affect change, accusing me of genocide and having blood on my hands.

"The vitriol is like something I have never seen, even though I've called for a ceasefire, even though I've called for Palestinian statehood.

"I even had a Palestinian heritage individual who grew up in a refugee camp in Lebanon come and campaign for me and they accused him of not actually being a real Palestinian."

Mr Ashworth, who was the Shadow Paymaster General, served as the Leicester South MP from 2011.

He lost his seat to Shockat Adam, an independent candidate who focused his campaigning on Gaza.

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