Ministers urge police to make ‘robust use’ of powers over MPs’ safety fears

Ministers have written to police chiefs to encourage officers to make “robust use” of powers to protect politicians, in the wake of a pro-Palestinian protest at the home of a prominent Tory MP.

Security minister Tom Tugendhat and policing minister Chris Philp made the unusual step of writing to chief constables after activists calling for a ceasefire gathered at the Dorset home of Tobias Ellwood.

The letter, seen by the Telegraph, says: “This will be an election year. That makes it all the more important that candidates, both locally and nationally, are free to make their arguments to our communities without fear.

“You have my full support in making robust use of all your powers to ensure that the security of our elected representatives is protected, and our democratic values upheld.”

The two ministers tell chief constables that the Government has “confirmed that, where the facts support it so the conditions are met, section 42 of the Criminal Justice and Police Act 2001 can be used by the police to direct protesters away from a residential dwelling, in order to prevent harassment, alarm or distress to the resident”.

Mr Ellwood and his family were not at home during the demonstration, after being warned by police to stay away. But the action was condemned by Conservative colleagues.

There have also been warnings of a growing volume of antisemitic incidents in the wake of the Hamas attacks of October 7, amid heightened tensions over the conflict.

The Bournemouth East MP, writing in the Telegraph, said it was a “mystery” why he was targeted.

He added: “I was the only MP in the Commons debate after the barbaric Oct 7 attacks, but before Israel sent in the tanks, to counsel against a full-scale ground invasion at this time as there was no emergency governance, security or humanitarian plan in place.

“Last Monday morning (hours before this demonstration I criticised Benjamin Netanyahu directly on his plans to take Rafah.”

Taliban Resurgence in Afghanistan
Tobias Ellwood has condemned the demonstration at his home (Jordan Pettitt/PA)

“Fellow MPs agree – we are witnessing a growing trend where public servants increasingly face intimidation and threats.”

Mr Tugendhat warned against such incidents becoming the norm.

The minister told the paper: “There’s a chilling effect that these people are having. They think of themselves as progressive and on the side of right. They are not.

“They are shouting down debate, and silencing democracy.”

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