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UK Home Secretary Hints at Banning Online Anonymity in Wake of MP’s Murder

© REUTERS / JEFF OVERS/BBCAndrew Marr Show in London
Andrew Marr Show in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
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Politicians from both sides of the House of Commons as well as the speaker agreed that online abuse of MPs had reached extreme levels — but that heightened security measures or ending meetings with constituents were neither practical nor desirable.
British Home Secretary Priti Patel has vowed a crackdown on online abuse and incitement following the murder of MP Sir David Amess.
Interviewed by Sky News' Trevor Phillips on Sunday morning — less than 48 hours after her Conservative party colleague was stabbed to death — Patel stressed "we can't carry on like this".
"I want us to look at everything, and there is work taking place already. We've got an Online Harms Bill that will come to Parliament," Patel said.
"I've done a lot of work on social media platforms, mainly around encryption and areas of that nature," she continued. "But we can't carry on like this. I spend too much time actually with communities who've been under attack... we want to make some big changes on that".
Patel said internet anonymity had enabled "relentless" and "appalling" online attacks on MPs, including herself. But she denied that the "robust" debate in the Westminster Parliament — renowned for its adversarial rough-and-tumble nature — had contributed to an atmosphere where violence was considered acceptable.
Patel said police bodyguards for all MPs — not just ministers — was being considered, but inisted Sir David's murder should not lead to measures that "break the link" between MPs and their constituents — a tradition that was dear to his heart.
© REUTERS / CHRIS RADBURNScene where British MP Amess was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea
Scene where British MP Amess was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
Scene where British MP Amess was stabbed to death in Leigh-on-Sea

Well-Liked Constituency MP

Amess, 69, was was fatally stabbed on Friday afternoon by 25-year-old Somali man Ali Harbi Ali — the son of Harbi Ali Kullane, a former PR chief to Somalia's ex-prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
The MP was meeting individual constituents from his Southend West seat at his weekly open 'surgery' at a Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, part of his Essex seat, when Ali walked in and stabbed him. The veteran MP died at the scene, where Ali was arrested.
Police are investigating the murder as a terrorist incident. While Ali had previously been flagged up to the government's Prevent anti-radicalisation programme, he was not under investigation by the MI5 counter-intelligence service, and no motive for his attack has yet been mentioned.
Police stand guard outside house believed to be address belonging to man arrested in connection with killing of British MP Amess, in London - Sputnik International, 1920, 17.10.2021
David Amess Murderer: What We Know So Far About Somali Suspect
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy told the BBC's Andrew Marr she did not feel safe as an MP, noting the 2016 murder of Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox and the attempted murder by stabbing of East Ham MP Stephen Timms.
But she dismissed Hackney North MP Diane Abbott's comment that she would prefer to meet constituents behind a protective plastic screen, saying that degree of security was not practical for rural MPs.
"There is more that can be done, particularly online, with the volume of abuse that we all have to put up with," Nandy said. "When I come off the programme today there'll be lots of it, and some of it will be threatening".
But House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle warned against a "knee-jerk reaction", pointing out that he had served for years on the Parliamentary security committee.
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