Man arrested over threatening behaviour towards Tory minister Mike Freer, who is quitting after death threats

6 February 2024, 12:40 | Updated: 6 February 2024, 12:46

Tory MP Mike Freer speaks to Tom Swarbwick about why he is quitting politics

By Kit Heren

A man has been arrested on suspicion of threatening Mike Freer, the former Conservative minister who quit after getting death threats.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

A 46-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of malicious communications after Mr Freer, the MP for Finchley and Golders Green, announced his resignation from frontline politics after 14 years last week.

The suspect remains in custody at a north London police station.

Mr Freer, 63, told police last Thursday that he had received an abusive and threatening phone call the day before. The man was arrested on Tuesday.

Read more: Tory minister quits after ‘arson attack’ and string of death threats due to ‘pro-Israel stance’

Read more: Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng to stand down at next election amid Tory exodus

Mike Freer
Mike Freer has been an MP since 2010. Picture: Alamy

The junior justice minister told LBC's Tom Swarbrick about the call on Monday. "Even the week after, last week, when I announced I was stepping back, we had someone phone up and say we're coming after you guys, you 'Cs'", he said.

"Someone actually phoned the office and said to my staff, they got the message saying, we're coming after you guys you 'Cs'. And so it's like, how much more do we have to take?"

It comes after two people were charged over a separate arson attack at Mr Freer's constituency office. It is not thought to be a hate crime and the two incidents are not considered to be linked.

Detective Superintendent Will Lexton-Jones, from the local policing team in north-west London, said: "It is vitally important for elected officials and their staff they can be confident in their safety and security, and we are committed to ensuring this.

Mike Freer
Mike Freer. Picture: Alamy

"Today’s arrest sends a clear message we will not tolerate threats or aggression of any kind towards elected officials. We will deal quickly and robustly with such offences.

"We are in regular contact with MPs and other elected officials and fully recognise the growing concerns they are telling us about their safety, and as you would expect, we have kept Mr Freer MP updated throughout this investigation including today’s arrest."

Mr Freer 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 Daily Mail.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak laughs alongside Mike Freer at a school in December 2023
Prime Minister Rishi Sunak laughs alongside Mike Freer at a school in December 2023. Picture: Alamy

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 Angelo had become “incredibly jittery” after it emerged that 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."

“Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me."

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 he wears stab vests when attending scheduled public events based on police advice.

The MP said he had also received threats from the group Muslims Against Crusades "about coming to stab me" and found "mock Molotov cocktails on the office steps".