Labour MP Dawn Butler forced to close constituency office after 'drastic escalation' in threats

Ms Butler has been outspoken on issues such as Black Lives Matter

Jon Stone
Policy Correspondent
Thursday 09 July 2020 15:32
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Labour MP Dawn Butler has been forced to close her constituency office after threats against her and her staff "drastically escalated" in recent months.

Ms Butler, who served as shadow equalities minister under Jeremy Corbyn, said she would never be "threatened into silence" but said activity targeting her had increased after she spoke out on issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement.

Police arrested one person last month in relation to the MP's safety and are said to be pursuing others.

"My staff have been attacked in the office, verbally assaulted coming and going from work, bricks have been thrown through the windows and the frontage has been smashed," she said in a statement explaining the office closure.

"I have had to work extensively with police and security staff to simply try and create a safe working environment for my employees. Many of these incidents were not made public in order to not encourage copycat attacks."

The MP for Brent Central said the office was also not big enough to safely social distance in during the Covid-19 outbreak, and that her constituency surgeries would continue at a local library and town hall.

Ms Butler's statement continued: "Sadly in recent months, the threat to myself and my staff has drastically escalated.

"Last month the police arrested one person and are currently pursuing others as I continue to speak out on key issues such as the impact of Covid-19 on the BAME community, the death of George Floyd and Black Lives Matter. I continue to receive on an almost daily basis threats of violence and death threats.

"I will never be threatened into silence and will continue to speak out and speak up for all of my constituents in Brent Central. The work that I do as your Member of Parliament will continue and the closure of the Willesden office will make no substantive difference to those individuals seeking my assistance."

MPs from across the political spectrum condemned the threats. Labour Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones said: "Brave men lie in graves across Europe who died fighting Nazis and racists ... their sacrifice is despoiled by the racists who target Dawn Butler and others."

Tory MP Tom Tugendhat said: "Whoever is trying to silence ⁦Labour MP Dawn Butler is threatening us all", adding: "We cannot ignore this and see our democracy suffer."

In 2016 Labour MP Jo Cox was assassinated by a far-right activist who took issue with her views on immigration.

Black MPs like like Ms Butler, Diane Abbot, and others have reported getting a wildly disproportionate share of death and violent threats.

Last year Tottenham MP David Lammy said he had been sent "death threats against myself, my wife and my children for standing up to the far right politics of hate", while a 2017 study found that Hackney MP Ms Abbott was sent more than half of all social media abuse directed at women MPs.

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