South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck reveals her death-threat torment

Emma Lewell-Buck
Emma Lewell-Buck

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck has revealed that she received a death threat just a week after her colleague Jo Cox was killed.

The Labour MP told the Gazette that she received the threat by email on the night of the EU Referendum, June 23.

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck's Westoe Road office

South Shields MP Emma Lewell-Buck's Westoe Road office

While police got involved, the email was untraceable and Mrs Lewell-Buck said she had no choice but to step up security at her constituency office in the town’s Westoe Road.

The threat came just two weeks after Jo Cox, Labour MP for the Batley and Spen constituency, in West Yorkshire, was fatally stabbed and shot outside of a library where she was due to hold a surgery meeting. Thomas Mair, 52, from Birstall, West Yorkshire, is due to go on trial accused of murder this autumn.

Mrs Lewell-Buck said: “I received the email on the night of the EU Referendum and as a result had to up security at my office.

“My friend and colleague was murdered just a week before. The police were amazing but they couldn’t trace where the email was sent from, so nothing could be done.

“Someone out there sent me what could have been a very real death threat and I have to take that seriously. I also have a duty of care to my staff so I’ve had to install a buzzer and intercom system at the office.

“I’ve been criticised for not just having the door open, but after receiving this threat, I have to think about the safety of my staff. My office is still open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, and people can come to speak to me whenever they want, but I have to keep my staff safe.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck says she regularly receives “vile” emails filled with “hatred and abuse”, and says that people often call on her to stand down.

She says she believes it stems from the fact that she is not publicly supporting Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in the run-up to the leadership election.

She said: “I’ve been a member of the Labour Party for a long time and I’ve never known this level of abuse before. People need to calm down and think about what they’re saying before posting on social media or emailing.

“I’m all up for debate but not for abuse and vile language.

“People are saying that I’m out of touch with my constituents, but in the three years since I’ve been elected I’ve knocked on thousands of doors, I hold surgeries in supermarkets and libraries and my office is open nine to five.

“I couldn’t be more accessible, but people are saying I’m out of touch with the views of the town. But the message I’m getting from people is that while they wish Jeremy Corbyn could win a general election and put his policies into action, he’s proven that he can’t.

“Every single person that comes to me in need of help because they’re being evicted, or they aren’t getting the hospital treatment they need, I want to help them, but every hour I spend reading through abusive emails is another hour I’m not helping the people who need it.”

She added: “I’ve never known a time in politics when people were so vile.

“I’m not saying they’re all doing it in Jeremy’s name, and I’m not saying it’s everyone, but there’s a select few.

“I can take it. I’m not some wilting wallflower, you’ve got to be tough to be in politics, but it’s unacceptable to be abusive towards someone just because they disagree with you on something.

“You can have a debate without going to that level. I’ve never known politics to be so poisonous.”

Mrs Lewell-Buck says she’s also been criticised for making decisions without consulting her constituents first.

She said: “People elected me to represent this town and to help the people who live here.

“I do consult on decisions, but I couldn’t possibly ring round 88,000 people before every decision I make.

“People elected me, I’m assuming, because they trust me to make those decisions. I want what’s best for this town and I want the Labour Party to be in power.”

A Northumbria Police spokesman said: “On June 23 at 7.50pm police received a report of a malicious communication that had been received by email. Inquiries are on-going to identify the sender to ensure appropriate action can be taken.”