Sir David Amess warned MPs were 'number one' on some people’s 'hate lists' in 2012 speech

15 October 2021, 19:16 | Updated: 15 October 2021, 23:38

He said most MPs did a "jolly good job" and did not deserve the online abuse they got
He said most MPs did a "jolly good job" and did not deserve the online abuse they got. Picture:

By Daisy Stephens

Sir David Amess gave a heartfelt speech to parliament in 2012 on the online abuse experienced by MPs.

Speaking at a debate on defamation law, Sir David said he was "libelled morning, noon and night" and said the "majority" of MPs are "here for the right reason".

"Freedom of speech is a cornerstone of our constitution but freedom of speech does not mean that people should be able to ride roughshod over the reputation of others," he said at the debate on May 9 2012.

"If you get on the internet these days, people write into the newspapers, the letter is published and then in no time at all - particularly if it's a politician - there are insulting comments, very insulting comments, just posted on the website."

Read more: Tory MP Sir David Amess stabbed to death as suspect arrested on suspicion of murder

Read more: 'Our hearts are filled with shock and sadness': PM's tribute to Sir David Amess

He said defamation law must strike the balance between "protection of freedom of speech on the one hand, and the protection of reputation on the other".

"And I do think that that includes members of parliament," he went on.

"Because I know we're number one on hate lists to some people but i think overwhelmingly the majority of members of parliament are here for the right reason, do a jolly good job and I am just getting a little bit fed up with us continually being insulted."

He added: "I think that's very wrong indeed."

Sir David Amess died on Friday after being stabbed multiple times at a constituency surgery in Essex.

Chief Constable Harrington of Essex Police said officers attended "within minutes" but the father of five died at the scene.

A 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder.

Essex police confirmed that counter-terrorism police were leading the investigation.

Read more: MPs and politicians share tributes for Sir David Amess after stabbing death

Read more: Number of MPs attacked on the job while in office raises concerns about security

There has been an outpouring of grief from the political sphere, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying his heart was "full of shock and sadness" at the loss of what he called "one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics".

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a "dark and shocking day" and said his "heart goes out" to Sir David's children, staff, friends and constituents.

Sir Keir said Sir David had a "profound sense of duty" and was "highly respected across Parliament, within the church and in the Christian community".

"Let us come together in response to these horrendous events," the Labour leader added.

"We will show once more that violence, intimidation and threats to our democracy will never prevail over the tireless commitment of public servants simply doing their jobs."