Woman arrested as Labour MP stabbed

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The Independent Online

A 21-year-old woman was arrested today after senior Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed in the stomach during a constituency advice surgery.

Mr Timms, 54, was said to be in "good spirits" as he recovered in hospital after the incident at the Beckton Globe community facility in Kingsford Way, east London, where the East Ham MP was holding a regular surgery.

A Scotland Yard spokeswoman said police were called to the scene at 3.20pm.

She said: "A 21-year-old woman was arrested at the scene and is currently in custody at an east London police station."

A spokeswoman for Barts and the London NHS Trust said: "Stephen Timms MP was taken to the Royal London this afternoon after being stabbed in the abdomen and is in a stable condition."

Acting Labour leader Harriet Harman was among those sending their best wishes to Mr Timms and his wife, Hui-Leng Lim.

She said: "One of the great strengths of the British political system is the everyday accessibility of MPs to their constituents but we can't have a situation where MPs are at risk.

"Parliament needs to consider how best to ensure MPs can carry out their responsibilities safely."

A Newham Council spokeswoman said: "Stephen is a popular MP, well-respected by local residents and we wish him a speedy recovery.

"Part of being a political representative is about being accessible and holding surgeries in community locations.

"You cannot vet people who attend such surgeries. We have security at this centre but will review arrangements in light of this incident."

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Stephen was taken by ambulance to the Royal London Hospital. He is currently undergoing tests, and his injuries are not believed to be life-threatening. He has received visitors and is in good spirits.

"Stephen would like to express his thanks and gratitude to both the staff at Beckton Globe for their assistance, and the ambulance and hospital staff for their fantastic care."

Several MPs sent Mr Timms their best wishes via micro-blogging site Twitter.

Former deputy PM John Prescott said: "Terrible news about Stephen Timms. Our thoughts are with him and his family and wish him a speedy recovery."

Labour's Tom Harris (Glasgow South) said: "Awful news, Stephen. Wishing you a very speedy recovery."

Greg Mulholland, Liberal Democrat MP for Leeds North West, said: "Awful news about Stephen Timms, thank goodness not life threatening. Stephen is one of politics' thoroughly nice guys, a real gentleman."

Newly-elected Labour MP for Stalybridge and Hyde Jonathan Reynolds said: "Appalled to hear Stephen Timms has been stabbed at his parliamentary surgery."

And Tom Blenkinsop (Labour, Middlesbrough South & East Cleveland) said: "Terrible news about Stephen Timms. Very much hope Stephen is alright and is back with us asap."

Shahid Mursaleen, spokesman for the Newham-based moderate Muslim organisation Minhaj-ul-Quran UK, said: "We are shocked and saddened to hear that Stephen Timms MP has been stabbed.

"Mr Timms has always been close to his constituency and a friend of Muslims living in east London. He has been a good friend of Minhaj-ul-Quran.

"We wish him well and his recovery to be soon and hope that he can resume his position as MP of East Ham soon."

Mr Timms has been MP for the constituency - and previously for Newham North East - since 1994.

He has regularly spoken out against knife crime in his constituency, particularly among young people.

He describes himself as a Christian Socialist and is Labour's vice-chairman for faith groups.

In 2000 Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was wounded and his aide, Andrew Pennington, was stabbed to death in a frenzied sword attack during a constituency surgery at the party's office in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.

Mr Jones, a married father of three, was conducting his weekly surgery when he received lacerations to his hands and arms after fending off blows from Robert Ashman, who was later jailed for manslaughter and attempted murder.

Speaking outside Beckton Globe, Sir Robin Wales, the elected Mayor of Newham, said: "My understanding is there was an appointment made for the woman.

"At the beginning of the interview she stabbed him.

"The security guard came in and disarmed her and held her until the police arrived."

Sir Robin, who has known Mr Timms for more than 20 years, said he spoke to the MP tonight.

"I think he was handling it very well," he said.

He said he understood Mr Timms was due to undergo exploratory surgery.