Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hung

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Anglesey MP Virginia Crosbie at Breakwater park in Holyhead (Image: Hadyn Iball / North Wales Live)
Anglesey MP Virginia Crosbie at Breakwater park in Holyhead (Image: Hadyn Iball / North Wales Live)

Sometimes a few whispered words can be even more terrifying than a shouted threat.

MP Virginia Crosbie was being interviewed on the street when a man quietly asked her: “Where’s your stab jacket?”

It was the latest of many threats and comments made to Virginia, who this week told how she wears a protective vest to meet constituents.

Threats have included her being poisoned by ricin or hanged with a noose – but the Conservative MP for Anglesey is determined to fight back.

However, that doesn’t always mean locking people up and throwing away the key.

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The man who confronted her did it again a few days later, this time with his child in tow, and Virginia contacted the police.

But instead of pressing charges the mum-of-three instead requested a restorative justice meeting, where the victim and perpetrator meet up to hash out exactly why he had said it.

She says: “I didn’t want a father with kids to have a criminal record, so I asked the police if we could try a different solution.

Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hungVirginia Crosbie wears a stab vest to meet constituents (DAILY EXPRESS)
Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hungDeath threats sent to Virginia include a note with a drawing of a noose and the words 'traitors hang'

“I met him in the police station, we sat down and I explained to him, ‘Look, it’s very intimidating to be asked where my stab jacket is. A member of my staff had to have a few weeks off, my team are really scared, and they’re just trying to do their job’.”

The pair spoke for an hour and at the end the man welled up, apologised and asked if he could give Virginia a hug, which she accepted.

“I gave him a box of chocolates for his kid,” she says. “That guy could have ended up with a criminal record just because he was stirred up from social media or he could have hurt me.”

An average of 3,000 abusive tweets are sent to MPs every day, a BBC probe found last year.

Shadow Safeguarding Minister Jess Phillips said this has created an “unsustainable” culture.

Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hungThreats have included her being poisoned by ricin or hanged with a noose – but the Conservative MP for Anglesey is determined to fight back

Virginia, who quit the “cesspit” of Twitter in 2020, now takes a different approach by naming and shaming the worst culprits on Facebook.

When one said they wanted to commit a sex act she left the post in place. “My team were like, ‘No, don’t leave it up!’” she says. “But I said, ‘I want his granny to see it. It’s not embarrassing me, it’s embarrassing him’.

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“Sometimes I screenshot these people and send it to their employer and say, ‘It seems like this person is having difficulties, is there anything I can help with?’ It’s slightly passive-aggressive but it works in calling them out.”

One troll who sent an image of a noose left their firm’s franking mark on the envelope. “How stupid is that?” Virg-inia says.

The MP meets police monthly to discuss her safety, and takes other precautions since the murder of fellow Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

Sir David was stabbed to death at his constituency surgery in Southend West, Essex, in 2021, for which killer Ali Harbi Ali is now serving a whole-life term.

Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hungConservative MP Sir David Amess was stabbed at his constituency in Essex (Getty Images)

It followed the 2016 assassination of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed by a white supremacist.

Virginia says: “I sat down with my team to work out how we could keep all of us safe, apart from me wearing the stab jacket. Everyone is vetted, and the police know where I am.

“Jo Cox died seven years ago, Sir David died two years ago. What other sectors have such a high rate of deaths? There’s only 650 of us. I put my life on the line to do the job I was democratically elected to do.”

Virginia’s husband and children worry for her.

She says: “When I heard about Sir David it was a shock, but there’s nothing more anyone could have done to have kept him safe. And that’s what I say to my kids and husband: I’m doing everything I can, but if someone wants to get you, they’re going to get you.”

Some of the abuse aimed at her is of a sexual nature. But she says the social media giants are not doing enough to combat the problem.

Death threats to MP who wears stab vest - from poisoning to being hungJo Cox was murdered as she was about to hold a constituency meeting (PA)

She adds: “I had a hate-crime comment on my Facebook and my followers were all reporting it to Facebook. I reported it to the police, Facebook did absolutely nothing.

“The police went round to the guy and knocked on his door and he took the post down. But we can’t afford to have our police doing that.”

Shortly after being elected to Parliament in 2019, Virginia received a death threat involving ricin. The police tracked down the troll, who “protested that as they were vegan, they couldn’t possibly have meant it”, she says.

But change does appear to be happening. She says: “People are starting to call out the threats and abuse publicly now.

“It’s been all too prevalent in society up until now, but we’ve reached our limit. Enough is enough.”

Emmeline Saunders

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