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Government minister to stand down at next election owing to death threats

A government minister has said he will stand down at the next general election after a series of death threats and an arson attack on his constituency office.

The minister for courts and legal services, Mike Freer, said that “by the skin of my teeth I avoided being murdered” by Ali Harbi Ali, who went on to kill the Southend West MP Sir David Amess in 2021.

“There comes a point when the threats to your personal safety become too much,” he told the Daily Mail.

Freer, 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.

The MP and his staff have wear stab vests when attending scheduled public events in his constituency after learning that Ali had watched his Finchley office before going on to murder Amess at a constituency surgery on 15 October 2021.

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.

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.

Freer, who has pro-Israel views and represents the constituency with the highest proportion of Jewish voters, said he could not divorce antisemitism from the intimidation.

He won his seat by about 6,600 votes at the 2019 election, seeing off the Liberal Democrat challenger, Luciana Berger.

Freer joins a series of MPs who have announced their intention not to contest the next election, which is expected later this year.