'Lynch mob mentality' scares politicians

MPs fear the publication of their expenses claims could lead to attacks on their homes and endanger the safety of their families this weekend.

Politicians said they had been abused in the street. One candidate for the vacant Speakership of the Commons said the stories on expense abuses had created a "lynch mob mentality".

The Tory MP Nadine Dorries said she had called the police after returning home on Wednesday to find vandals had smashed up patio furniture at her constituency home in Bedfordshire. They then left a note on her website, saying: "Nice patio Nadine, or was."

"I'm a tough cookie. It takes a lot to shock me," she said. "What upset me most was seeing my poor dogs, who were shaking in the corner of a room."

She blamed the media for provoking the attack. "My patio furniture was broken by journalists and broadcasters. They have whipped up hysteria to the point that has now crossed the boundaries of responsibility," she said.

Stewart Jackson, the Tory MP for Peterborough, had police guarding his home last weekend after protesters tried to use his swimming pool. He had claimed for cleaning it on expenses.

And children surrounded the daughter of one MP in her school playground and taunted her that her "dad was a thief". The MP involved represents a London seat and has never claimed the second homes allowance.

The wife of the Northampton South MP, Brian Binley, who has faced accusations over his expenses, said her safety was at risk. "Pictures of my house have appeared, which I found horribly intrusive," Jacqueline Binley said. "There's been a campaign against my husband, but I live in this house from Monday to Thursday on my own."

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