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Politics

Christian MP moved to police safe house after death threat

by Chantalle Edmunds

A Scottish Christian MP has told how she had to be shielded in a police safe house after a death threat. 

Carol Monaghan - who's the SNP MP for Glasgow North West - experienced online abuse followed by a death threat that was phoned in - causing officers to move her and her family to a safe place.

Speaking to the BBC Ms Monaghan, who's 48, said she was sent a series of offensive tweets followed by messages that included references to murdered MP Jo Cox.

Her constituency office in Partick was targeted, with windows smashed. While she was in London, the office front was splattered with ketchup.

"When my staff came in it was quite a disturbing thing to see," she told BBC Scotland's The Seven programme. 

"It was obviously meant to look like blood across the windows. That was the start of the physical activities."

The death threat, containing details about Ms Monaghan's personal life, was phoned in.

"I got a call from my office manager. The police had contacted him to say there was what they considered to be a credible threat. 

"Because of the personal nature of the threat and the personal details, I knew he knew where I lived, I knew he knew who my kids were.

"That evening when we came back from the police station to the house, the police wouldn't let us into the house until the whole area had been searched. 

"They spent the night outside the house and very early the next morning we left and went to a safe place."

Jonathan Bell, 35, admitted his behaviour caused her "fear or alarm" at Glasgow Sheriff Court after harassing the MP between January and April 2019.

He will be sentenced next month.

Ms Monaghan is calling on social media companies to take action to end misogynistic abuse.

She is calling for safeguards to be put in place. 

"This idea that an abuser on Twitter can stay anonymous cannot be right," she said. 

"I understand some people want to interact on Twitter anonymously for the best of reasons but there is also a huge hiding place for people who want to put more sinister stuff out there. We need a way of identifying users and take action against them for tweets that are offensive."

Twitter said it takes action against accounts which violate rules on abuse and harassment.

Monaghan, who's Catholic, attracted media attention in 2017 when she attended a Commons select committee meeting with ashes on her forehead. She said at the time it turned into a teaching moment when a number of colleagues did not know what the symbol meant.

She added that she was not embarrassed to appear on television displaying the mark. 
 

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