South Shields MP slams 'totally unacceptable' attack on her office and warns 'toxic culture' has seen open door policy scrapped
A North East MP has revealed she and her staff have had to “ramp up security” following attacks on her office and on other MPs.
Dylan Thompson has been sentenced to 22 weeks behind bars after he repeatedly spat at a plastic partition and hit a window with a garden ornament at the base of South Shields representative Emma Lewell-Buck.
The 34-year-old pleaded guilty to a public order offence, attempted criminal damage and possession of cannabis following his visit to the constituency office last year, where he demanded a “safehouse”.
But the conviction has prompted a warning that such ordeals risk widening the gap between the public and parliamentarians.
“For MPs, our staff are our voice when we’re in Westminster and I know my team always goes above and beyond,” said Lewell-Buck, following the sentencing.
“I hope this sends a message that this behaviour is totally unacceptable when people are trying to help you.
“I don’t think people understand the impact this type of attack can have - it impacts everyone else who comes in for help.
“We used to just have an open door policy, but we can’t do that anymore, we’ve had to ramp up security.”
The court heard that Thompson, of Anderson Street, South Shields, had initially appeared "vulnerable", but when staff explained they could not find him the accommodation he wanted, launched his attack.
Robin Turton, defending, said Thompson has mental health issues, which he self-medicated with six litres of cider per day, adding he had a "chaotic and transient life" and had himself been the victim of several burglaries at the time of the incident in the MP’s office.
Summing up, Mr Recorder Geoffrey Pritchard told Thompson the MP’s staff “did their best to help” him.
Lewell-Buck added: “All my staff want to do is the best they can by the people of South Shields.
“I think there’s a really toxic culture now, I don’t remember people behaving the way they do to us now when I was elected in 2013.
“This type of behaviour was unheard of then, but in recent years it’s just got worse and worse.”