MP fears for family after death threats

MP for Thame John Howell
MP for Thame John Howell

THAME MP John Howell has been left fearing for his family’s lives after being sent death threats.

The Conservative MP for Henley and Thame was sent several emails threatening his life after he responded to a question put to him by a constituent online about the Israeli – Palestinian conflict.

“The last thing I want to appear as is a drama queen,” said Mr Howell, who lives with his wife and son.

“But you have to take seriously a threat when it says, ‘I would like to see you dead’.

“It is not just a question of me, it is my family and my staff. All it takes is one person out there who is weird enough, with a distorted view of life, to make an attempt to carry this out.”

The emails are thought to have been sent after Harry Fear, from Watlington, used his website to publish a question he had asked Mr Howell about attacks in Gaza and the MP’s reply.

He asked: “What actions are you taking to see that Israel halts the military actions that are taking place in defiance of international law and basic human decency?”

The post was accompanied by a photograph of an explosion with a caption saying: “Only a few hours ago, Israel felt it necessary to inflict this destruction and death on the Strip.”

Mr Howell replied: “And what is your position, Harry, on the 100 rockets which have landed in Israel over the weekend?”

On his website, Mr Fear complained that his question was ignored and he found the reply ‘deeply disturbing’, ‘latently abusive’ and ‘sarcastic’ in tone.

Mr Howell said he had received about 30 emails, some of which he described as “worrying” while others used language not suitable in a family newspaper.

One read: “John, you ugly son of a gun, how much do you get to protect Israel’s interests, you corrupt, smug-looking English twerp? You’re nothing in the eyes of God. Carry on supporting Israel, you fiend of England.

“This place is a hot mess and the people here are the slime of the devil.”

A woman claimed to have cursed Mr Howell and said: “You will suffer the consequences of this corruption and callousness.”

Mr Howell said: “There has been a series of emails from fictitious addresses with names such as Jihad Alshamie, which gets you worried straight away, and lines such as ‘it is people like you who deserve to die’.

“There are a huge number of emails from fanatics, some from the UK and some clearly not.”

The MP has however since then received around 100 emails praising him for ‘standing up for free speech’.

“The emails aren’t all from pro-Israelites, but from all sorts of people,” he added.

“Being given support like that is fantastic, and reading many of them was actually quite moving.

“It just goes to show how human nature can be both wonderful and terrible at the same time.”

Police have been informed of the threatening emails and the case is being investigated.