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Tory minister quits after ‘arson attack’ and string of death threats due to ‘pro-Israel stance’
1 February 2024, 00:40 | Updated: 1 February 2024, 07:03
The Conservative justice minister has said he will stand down at the next general election following a string of death threats and an ‘arson’ attack on his constituency office last year.
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Mike Freer, 63, told Rishi Sunak on Wednesday that he will be stepping away from politics following a series of threats and ‘intimidation’.
The Tory MP for London's Finchley and Golders Green seat since 2010 said he could no longer put his family through the anxiety of fearing for his safety.
He said he “avoided being murdered” by the “skin of my teeth” by Ali Harbi Ali, who later killed Southend West MP Sir David Amess.
"There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much," he told the DailyMail.
In a letter to his local Conservative association, Mr Freer wrote that it "will be an enormous wrench to step down", but that the attacks "have weighed heavily on me and my husband, Angelo".
Mr Freer said his husband Angelo had become “incredibly jittery” after it emerged that Ali Harbi Ali had visited his constituency office before he later went on to kill Sir David.
"I was very lucky that actually on the day I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall,” Mr Freer told the outlet.
“Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me."
The Tory MP now wears stab vests when attending scheduled public events based on police advice.
But the “final straw” for Mr Freer was an arson attack on his north London constituency office last December.
He said he received an email after the attack telling him he was “the kind of person who deserved to be set alight”.
While Mr Freer is not Jewish, he believes his strong support of Israel has led to him being targeted for his views.
Mr Freer, who represents a heavily Jewish constituency, said "I don't think we can divorce" anti-Semitism from the intimidation.
He said while accepting a certain level of abuse is the standard as an MP “you shouldn't really have to think, am I going to survive the day?”
Mr Freer said his first serious death threat arrived the year after Labour’s Stephen Timms was stabbed in 2010, who survived.
He said he received a message from the group Muslims Against Crusades which said “let Stephen Timms be a warning to you”.
His decision to step down also follows the deaths of Sir David and Labour MP Jo Cox in their constituencies over the last decade.
Mr Freer’s Labour opponent 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."