Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle has revealed he received a car bomb threat, as he criticised Boris Johnson’s government for failing to crack down on social media firms over the torrent of online abuse.
Sir Lindsay said he recently received a disturbing threat – sent via an “offshore” Twitter account – that a bomb would be placed under his car.
The Speaker called on social media platforms to “get their act together” following the killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, and suggested legislation to force companies to tackle threats was long overdue.
“If it was up to me and I was in charge of legislation, I would have done something,” Sir Lindsay told Times Radio in a pointed message to the government.
He added: “We have got to take it seriously. The companies have got one chance … We are working very closely with them [but] some aren’t working as well as they should do, and they need to get their act together.”
It comes as Conservative MP Mark Francois said it was time for “David’s Law” – suggesting that the Online Harms Bill could be toughed up “to make sure our colleague didn’t die in vain”.
Francois said social media firms had to stop the “horrendous abuse” from people hiding behind anonymity. “If the social media companies don’t want them to drain the swamp, let’s compel them to do,” he said.
However, home secretary Priti Patel has said any measures directed at tackling online social media abuse by anonymous trolls would have to be “proportionate” and “balanced”.
Patel said on Monday that “we see far too much cruelty online” and also revealed that a review of policing for politicians is “concluding literally in the next few days”, as pledged to update MPs.
It comes as former Conservative Party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith’s office revealed he had received a death threat in the mail at the weekend after Sir David’s killing on Friday.
The senior backbench MP’s office told LBC on Monday that the threat – which including a newspaper clipping of Sir David’s death and a reference to “like you” – had been reported to the Metropolitan Police.
Earlier on Monday, Labour MP Chris Bryant revealed that a man has been arrested over a threat on his life after he returned home from Qatar on Saturday.
“The first message in my inbox was this death threat, pretty clear, so I notified the police and they have taken action,” he said.
Elsewhere, SNP MP Joanna Cherry told the Daily Record she once required a police escort to her constituency surgery because of a credible death threat.
On another occasion a constituent “behaved in such a menacing and threatening manner” that the MP and her office manager “pushed all the furniture against the door of the room in the suburban library where my surgery was being held while we waited for the police to arrive”.
And Northern Ireland’s deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill revealed that she once had to remove an uninvited person from her home.
“I’ve had to physically remove an uninvited person from my home … that is not acceptable for anyone to have to deal with that,” the Sinn Fein politician told Stormont on Monday.
It follows claims from MPs that the police response to threats made against them is “patchy” across the country and have often been ignored.