Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman 'haunted' by death threats

Huddersfield MP Barry Sheerman
Barry Sheerman appealed to Commons leader Penny Mordaunt to look at the support available to MPs. Credit: PA

Labour MP Barry Sheerman has spoken out about a death threat which left him feeling “absolutely haunted”.

Speaking in the Commons, he said the abuse he has faced over the last 18 months has made him feel “frightened” to stand close to railway station platforms and caused him to “look behind me all the time”.

The Huddersfield MP called for more help to be made available on the mental health impact of such an experience.

Mr Sheerman, who has been an MP since 1979, described himself as “pretty robust” and “quite resilient” before telling the Commons about a death threat he faced.  

“About 18 months ago I had a death threat from a gentleman who said he was coming to London to kill me. Over these last 18 months this has absolutely haunted me," he said. 

“My home is now a fortress, my office is well protected and everything physically has been done to support, but there’s very little support – or not enough support – when a member gets into this sort of situation.

“The gentleman that was coming to do nasty things to me was sectioned. But when he came out of the mental hospital, all I was told by the administration was he was ‘out and he knows where you live.

“I have to say this has been 18 months, dreadful, personal, stressful time, and if it hadn’t been for my family and friends’ support I don’t think I would have got through it.

“My mental health – I’m a robust individual – has been very much put in stress, but this shouldn’t happen to members of this House.”

The 83-year-old appealed to Commons leader Penny Mordaunt to look at the support available to MPs, adding: “I think every member deserves better.”

Ms Mordaunt agreed with Mr Sheerman saying: “He is absolutely right to get on record that this has a toll on an individual’s wellbeing and resilience and mental health.“It is a terrible thing to have to endure and, of course, MPs endure these things not just about harm to themselves but also their families, children and their staff, and that is a very great weight to carry.”

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know.