LONDON: A cross-party group of lawmakers have called on the Metropolitan police to take a tougher stance on the verbal abuse and harassment of MPs outside parliament.
Over 55 MPs wrote the scathing letter to Cressida Dick, the head of the Metropolitan police, after Conservative MP Anna Soubry was verbally abused and hassled by a group of pro-Brexiters.
On Monday, as Soubry was entering the Palace of Westminster, a group of anti-EU protestors numbering less than 50, jostled and verbally abused the pro-EU Conservative MP, calling her “a Nazi”, “fascist” and “traitor”.
Moreover, as Soubry gave an interview with the BBC and Sky News outside parliament, the same group of protestors could be heard in the background shouting “Soubry is a Nazi!” and calling her “scum”.
“We write to express our serious concerns about the deteriorating public order and security situation in and around the exterior of the Parliamentary estate including College Green,” the letter said according to local media.
“After months of peaceful and calm protests by groups representing a range of political views on Brexit, an ugly element of individuals with strong far-right and extreme right connections – which your officers are well aware of – have increasingly engaged in intimidatory and potentially criminal acts targeting Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public,” the MPs added.
The signed letter also criticized the police for their “lack of coordination” in responding to the abuse and failing on upholding their assurances that such behavior would not be tolerated following a similar incident that occurred last month.
“It is utterly unacceptable for Members of Parliament, journalists, activists and members of the public to be subject to abuse, intimidation and threatening behaviour and indeed potentially serious offences while they go about their work” the statement said. Speaking to ITV on Tuesday, Soubry said that there was a small group “roaming around Westminster intimidating people going about their lawful business”.
Soubry isn’t the only public figure to experience such levels of abuse; Owen Jones, a prominent journalist, was also harassed and verbally abused by the same group of protesters as was Femi Oluwole, an anti-Brexit youth activist, who was mistaken for David Lammy due to the color of his skin.
In a statement, the Metropolitan police said: “An ongoing policing operation at the Parliamentary estate around Brexit continues and we have an appropriate policing plan in place.
“Our role is to facilitate peaceful protest and balance the needs and rights of all those present, including protestors, MPs and members of the public.”
“We will deal robustly with incidents of harassment and abuse against anyone where that harassment or abuse constitutes a criminal offence,” the statement added. (AA)