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by Louise Wilson
15 February 2021
Death threats sent to a third of MSPs

Police officers patrol the Scottish Parliament. Picture: Alamy

Death threats sent to a third of MSPs

A third of MSPs taking part in an exclusive Holyrood poll have received a death threat since being elected.

Female MSPs were considerably more likely to have receive a death threat (46 per cent of respondents) than their male colleagues (26 per cent).

In addition, 29 per cent of female MSPs have received a threat of sexual violence while no male MSP reported such a threat being made.

The Holyrood survey was conducted after a man was arrested and charged following alleged threats including one of sexual violence made to the SNP MP Joanna Cherry.

MSPs said they were increasingly concerned about their personal safety. Over two-thirds (70 per cent) said they had feared for their safety since being elected.

This figure rises to almost nine in 10 for female MSPs.

One female MSP said: “I’ve known for most of my adult life that most women, at some point, experience some form of men’s violence. I’m now utterly dismayed to say that a sizeable number of females I work with have received credible death threats – I know of three in just the last couple of weeks.”

Two thirds of MSPs have had to contact police following a threat to them, their staff or their families (65% of male MSPs and 75% of females).

One in five of them have had to seek police protection because of such threats.

One male MSP, who has been subject to homophobic abuse, said: “Someone once followed me home from work, banged on my door and the police gave me a panic alarm to carry around.

“My regional office was fitted with extra security and had panic buttons installed.”

Read more:,a-growing-threat-is-the-rising-tide-of-intimidation-towards-our-politicians-harming-democracy

The Scottish Parliament has stepped up its security arrangements over the course of this parliament, while work is underway to ensure newly elected MSPs in May are protected immediately.

A spokesperson for the parliament said: “Jo Cox’s death made us all look again at Members’ safety and, regrettably, the threat elected representatives face on a daily basis.

“Over this session of parliament, the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) has funded security enhancements to more than 80 per cent of constituency and regional offices based on Police Scotland advice. We have also made lone worker devices available to Members and their staff, plus home security surveys are available to MSPs, which are undertaken by Police Scotland.   

“The Scottish Parliament’s Security Office and Police Scotland provide advice and support to Members on a range of security issues, proactively and in response to any concerns raised.

 “Work is already at an advanced stage by our Security Office to ensure the new intake of MSPs have immediate access to our personal safety services.”

A total of 67 MSPs answered the Holyrood survey, which was carried out between 4-9 February.


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