Counter-terror police protecting Jewish MP after antisemitic death threat


Ruth Smeeth, the Jewish MP for Stoke on Trent North, has been given police protection after receiving an antisemitic death threat on Facebook.

The 37-year-old was repeatedly referred to as a “Yid” in the abusive message which claimed “the gallows would be a fine and fitting place” for her “to swing from”.

The Sun reported today that Ms Smeeth, who has previously worked for the Community Security Trust and is a former director of anti-extremist group Hope Not Hate, has had panic buttons and CCTV cameras fitted at her home.

Ms Smeeth, who said the message was one of 25,000 abusive posts she had received, said on Twitter: “Huge thanks for the solidarity and supportive messages. I'm very touched and will keep fighting the good fight against abuse.”

The death threat expressed strong support for Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, referring to a “hatchet job” against him by the “right-wing, neo-con, Nazi-Zionist outfit Portland Communications”.

It also said “Jeremy Corbyn, to put it bluntly, is staying exactly where he is”.

In June, Ms Smeeth was verbally abused by a supporter of Mr Corbyn at the publication of Shami Chakrabarti’s report into antisemitism in the party.

The online death threat rant referred to the incident, describing the “crocodile” tears “she concertedly and duplicitously shed at the irrelevant, from my point of view antisemitic meeting she deceitfully attended”.

Ms Smeeth told the Sun she held Mr Corbyn “personally responsible” for the threats she had received.

“I expect Jeremy to show true leadership, which means calling out individuals at times by name to say what they are doing it is unacceptable,” she said.

“He must stand up and say enough is enough, and he has done nowhere near enough yet.”

Counter-terror police have conducted two investigations into threats against Ms Smeeth since July.

The Metropolitan Police said an investigation was ongoing.

A spokesman for Mr Corbyn said: "No abuse is carried out in Jeremy's name, and no one responsible for abuse is a genuine supporter of Jeremy's, who has repeatedly called for a kinder, gentler politics.

"This is why Jeremy launched 'Respect and Unity', a code of conduct calling on all Labour members and supporters to conduct themselves with a high standard of behaviour.

"All evidence of abuse should be reported to both the party and to the police so that action may be taken against the individuals responsible."

Around 90 minutes after the first statement was issued, Mr Corbyn's spokesman said Mr Corbyn had spoken to Ms Smeeth "to express his outrage at the abuse and threats directed against her".

He added that Mr Corbyn had "consistently spoken out against all forms of antisemitism".

Marie van der Zyl, Board of Deputies vice-president, said both Mr Corbyn and Owen Smith, his Labour leadership challenger, must condemn the abuse of Ms Smeeth.

She said: "The disgusting antisemitic slurs and violent threats against Ruth Smeeth show the depths which some so-called Labour supporters are plumbing.

"This needs to be roundly and swiftly condemned by both the leadership candidates and the party needs to act to drain the cesspit of antisemitism that has become so apparent in recent months.

"This will not happen if leading Labour figures continue to irresponsibly undermine the disciplinary process that has, often belatedly, led to the suspension of bigots.

"Casting doubt on the actions that are being taken means that certain Labour figures are effectively giving a 'free pass' to racism and misogyny and creating a culture of impunity for antisemitism.

"Labour's disciplinary process needs to be strengthened, not undermined."

Owen Smith said: “Antisemitic abuse and violent threats against Ruth Smeeth, or anyone else, are completely unacceptable. I condemn them unreservedly and Ruth has my full support.

“Anyone responsible for abuse like this has no place in the Labour Party. There can be no excuses for abuse, and it should never be ignored.”

Simon Johnson, Jewish Leadership Council chief executive, said: “The threats targeted at Ruth Smeeth have no place in society.

"The leader of the Labour Party seems to have no control over his ‘so-called’ supporters and his repeated condemnations have not begun to tackle antisemitism within his party.

"Where individuals are known to Mr Corbyn, he must act to protect his MPs. His calls for a ‘kinder, gentler politics’ are proving to be at best a cover-up for his lack of decisive action and at worse something far more sinister.”

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