Mike Freer on quitting as MP: I narrowly avoided David Amess killer | Politics

A minister has described how he escaped David Amess’s killer by a “stroke of luck” after announcing he will not seek re-election over fears for his safety.

Mike Freer, the justice minister and Conservative MP for Finchley and Golders Green, said “a constant string of incidents” including death threats, abuse and narrow escapes had led him to decide to stand down at the next election.

In the latest incident, Freer’s constituency office was the target of a suspected arson attack over Christmas. Two people have been charged. Freer, who represents an area with a large Jewish population, has been an outspoken defender of Israel.

Tributes to Freer have poured in since he announced his decision to stand down in an interview with the Daily Mail on Wednesday night.

On the BBC Radio 4 Today programme, Freer described how he narrowly avoided an encounter with Ali Harbi Ali a month before he murdered the Southend West MP Sir David Amess.

“He’d been to Finchley several times. He told [the police] that he’d come to Finchley on 21 September 2021 – I remember the date vividly – armed with the intention to harm.

“And purely by a stroke of luck, the night before, Boris Johnson had moved me from the whips’ office to courts and equalities. Otherwise I would have been in Finchley and probably attacked.”

Asked what the police had advised him to do while going about his duties as an MP, Freer said: “You just have to be aware of your surroundings. So when you park your car, just make sure there’s no one hanging around. When you approach the office, people quite legitimately could be waiting to see you. Always make sure you keep a distance. Always make sure the office is well lit, the CCTV is working, the panic buttons are there.

“If you do a public event, always make sure you have an exit that you can run to behind you, in case someone comes at you from in front. It’s all that kind of awareness that becomes engrained.” He also decided to buy a stab vest.

Asked whether he was being targeted because he represented a constituency with a large Jewish population, Freer said: “I can’t draw any other conclusion … The level of abuse I get standing up for my constituents on antisemitism and on Israel has to be a factor.”

The Commons speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, told ITV’s Good Morning Britain he was “really saddened” that Freer had decided not to seek re-election. “We all get death threats but Mike really has been targeted,” Hoyle said, revealing that he had received one himself last Friday. “The fact that MPs have these threats is totally unacceptable.”

Laura Trott, the chief secretary to the Treasury, told GB News that Freer’s decision was “incredibly sad”.

“Mike Freer is a brilliant minister and a great man and he made a huge contribution to British life,” she said. “We need to change the way that politics is conducted in this country so that people can air opinions without fear of harassment and intimidation.”

Karen Pollock, the chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said on X that Freer was a “champion for our community. This should not be the consequences of public service.”

Freer told the Today programme: “When you get a constant string of incidents, some of which threaten your life, there comes a point where you say enough is enough.

“MPs – we kind of sign up for it, we take it on the chin, particularly the lower-level stuff. But it’s not fair on our families and when our families feel the pressure, we really do have to evaluate whether we should continue.”


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