Sir David Amess: MP says often 'nothing is done' when abuse reported to police

17 October 2021, 18:13 | Updated: 17 October 2021, 19:24

By Sophie Barnett

A Conservative MP and friend of Sir David Amess said a change is needed in the approach taken to politicians' security, claiming often "nothing is done" when he reports abusive messages to police.

Andrew Rosindell, who represents Romford, has called for more security for politicians in the wake of the tragic killing of Sir David Amess on Friday.

The Conservative, who served as an MP since 1983, was stabbed to death while meeting constituents at a surgery in Leigh-on-Sea.

Police arrested a 25-year-old man, believed to be named Ali Harbi Ali, on suspicion of the father-of-five's murder.

Speaking to LBC from Southend, Mr Rosindell said the tragic killing of his friend was a "horrific" incident.

"I can't believe it," he said.

"He was a close friend of mine, a really good friend for 40 years and I just can't believe what's happened. I am devastated."

Read more: Priti Patel: MPs cannot be cowed from meeting voters

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Mr Rosindell described the MP as a "model of what a constituency MP should be".

"Regardless of politics he had friends across all political parties, he loved his constituencies, Basildon and Southend West, and he served them incredibly well," he said.

"He really was engaged with his constituencies, he's an absolute model of what a constituency MP should be, and he had real principles.

"He wasn't one of these greasy pole climbers, he was actually there for the right reasons.

"We are going to really miss him, we really are."

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Mr Rosindell said MPs are "a little bit" frightened after the incident on Friday, which comes five years after the tragic killing of MP Jo Cox in West Yorkshire.

He said he has brushed off abuse and threats received in the past because he has "a job to do", adding he believes a change is needed in the approach taken to MPs' security.

He said his office does contact police about abuse, but often either nothing is done or he is asked to "give endless statements which lead nowhere".

During his 20 years as an MP, Andrew Rosindell said he has had to keep his wits about him due to the abuse he has received.

He told Sky News that he had his office arsoned, his car smashed up and someone even tried to get into his house.

"The abuse we get on social media, by emails, I mean we get it all the time," he explained.

"But we brush it off because we've got a job to do. And we tell the police.

"The police have got other things to do, it's not always followed up.

"And I think probably this has all got to change, we have got to take this a bit more seriously in future."

Read more: Hundreds attend candlelit vigil for MP Sir David Amess as terror suspect detained

Mr Rosindell said MPs take it in "their stride" because their job is always the priority.

He added: "We do tend to not think much about our own security, I'm afraid. But I'm thinking now maybe we should do a bit more."

Home Secretary Priti Patel has said politicians must not be "cowed" from serving voters following the tragic killing of Sir David.

She told reporters security measures were being put in place to protect MPs, as the Met declared the tragedy was a terror incident.

Speaking in Southend after joining Boris Johnson and Sir Keir Starmer in paying her respects at the church on Saturday, she said: "We will carry on, we live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation... to stop us from functioning, to serve our elected democracy."

Asked whether there could be a balance between the safety of MPs and the democratic process, she said: "It can be balanced, it can absolutely be balanced."

Ms Patel said Sir David was "killed doing a job that he loves, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member and, of course, acts of this... are absolutely wrong, and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy."

"So that is why there are measures under way right now - I convened meetings yesterday, I've been with the Speaker of the House, and with the police and our security services to make sure that all measures are being put in place for the security of MPs so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members," she added.

On Sunday evening dozens of mourners attended a special church service in memory of the Conservative MP.

Residents gathered at St Michael's and All Angels church, opposite Sir David's constituency office in Leigh-on-Sea, to pay their respects and share their memories of the MP.

Mark Churchward, who spoke on behalf of a network of Southend church leaders, described Sir David, a devout Catholic, as "a man of honour, a man of compassion and a man of faith", who dealt with everyone respectfully.

Local Conservative councillor John Lamb described Sir David's death as a "big loss" and said the MP had worked tirelessly to solve people's problems.

"Whatever your religion, whatever your creed, whatever your culture, he was there to sort it," Mr Lamb said, his voice shaking with emotion.

A photo of Sir David was placed on a table next to a candle at the front of the church during the vigil.