Tory minister who wears stab vest after arson attack, and death threats from Islamic extremists, to stand down at general election

Thursday 1 February 2024

A Government minister who has been subjected to death threats from Islamic extremists and an arson attack on his constituency office, will stand down at the general election.

Justice minister Mike Freer said that “by the skin of my teeth I avoided being murdered” by Ali Harbi Ali, who went on to kill Southend West MP Sir David Amess.

“There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much,” he said in an interview.

Mr Freer, who has served as the MP for London’s Finchley and Golders Green seat since 2010, said it was time to “say enough” as he could no longer put his family through the anxiety for his safety.

In a letter to his local Conservative association, he wrote that it “will be an enormous wrench to step down”, but that the attacks “have weighed heavily on me and my husband, Angelo”.

Mr Freer's burnt out constituency office after it was subject to an arson attack

The MP and his staff have decided to wear stab vests when attending scheduled public events in his constituency after learning that Ali had watched his Finchley office before going on to knife Sir David to death during a constituency surgery in 2021.

Mr Freer said: “I was very lucky that actually on the day I was due to be in Finchley, I happened to change my plans and came into Whitehall.

“Otherwise who knows whether I would have been attacked or survived an attack. He said he came to Finchley to attack me.”

He said MPs tend to try to “make light” of threats, but that it remained at the back of his mind that he could have been killed.

Mr Freer said he had also received threats from the group Muslims Against Crusades “about coming to stab me” and found “mock Molotov cocktails on the office steps”.

The arson attack on his north London constituency office in December was “the final straw,” he said.

Mr Freer, who has pro-Israel views and represents a heavily Jewish constituency, said “I don’t think we can divorce” antisemitism from the intimidation.

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