Private Security for MPs Mulled by Westminster, as PM Paid Tribute to Murdered Sir David Amess
15:05 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 13:23 GMT 01.03.2022)
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has paid tribute to the Conservative lawmaker Sir David Amess, who died after being stabbed to death last week.
Johnson told the House of Commons on Monday that "David was the nicest, kindest and gentlest of individuals to grace these benches".
The PM also announced that Southend, where Sir David served as an MP, will be given city status, adding that the Queen has approved the move already.
Sir David was meeting with his constituents in Leigh-on-Se on 15 October when he was stabbed multiple times, leading to his death at the scene.
The politician’s murder has raised questions of the parliamentarians’ personal security as they conduct public work and meet their constituents in person.
Although reservations over the necessity for private security for the MPs still remain, UK Justice Secretary Dominic Raab
has suggested that it could be a “likely” option in some cases.
“It depends on the individual. I think we’re more likely to look at things like private security guards, there’s already I believe money available for that. I probably wouldn’t choose to have them outside a surgery that I have. I think I would worry about the chilling effect, I’m not sure it’s necessary to have that”, Raab said in an interview on Monday.
Life-threatening encounters between UK politicians and member of the public have taken place in the past.
In the case of the Batley and Spen MP Jo Cox, it led to her murder by shooting and stabbing during a constituency surgery in 2016.
An attempted murder by stabbing of East Ham MP Stephen Timms in 2010 saw Roshonara Choudhry, a 21-year-old British former student and an Islamist extremist jailed for life.
Asked if he thought it was the right time to consider some form of MP protection during surgeries, such as a police escort, Stephen Timms said:
"The police were very helpful to me in 2010, attending my surgeries for several weeks after the attack, but – given their reduced current numbers – they have more important things to do than to attend every week".
Following Sir David's stabbing, a British citizen of Somali heritage, Ali Harbi Ali, was arrested on suspicion of murder and has since been held under the Terrorism Act.
The leader of the Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, told the Parliament on Monday that "we must not lose sight of the fact that David's killing was 'an act of terror in our country'".
"A cowardly attack on a public servant doing his job is an attack on our country and our way of life", Starmer told the House of Commons.