Police are currently stationed outside Neil Coyle’s constituency office after he received a threatening message on Twitter yesterday following his vote in favour of a Syrian bombing campaign.
The MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, however, has asked the News to thank the “amazing” support from local people he has received since the threat – including some who offered to act as freelance bodyguards.
Mr Coyle received a Tweet yesterday afternoon which said: “u voted for air strikes in Syria , if i see you round ends”… It was accompanied by three cartoon knives, which has been interpreted by many as a “death threat.”
Mr Coyle, who was one of 66 Labour MPs to ignore his party leader and vote in favour of the bombing campaign, immediately reported the matter to the police and Twitter, who deleted the offending account.
He told the News: “There are now police outside my surgery and also extra security outside my constituency office. We know how police are struggling with time and resources, and it’s such a shame that these officers have had to do this because of some idiot’s message.”
The Newington councillor, who was in Oldham for the by-election when he received the violent message, said his first concern was for his pregnant wife Sarah and staff.
He said: “I thought about my staff and family and knew it would be irresponsible to ignore it. As you know we have a knife crime problem in the area and it was a really sick choice of emojis to use.
“It’s a shock and Sarah is a bit worried. Her priority should be to herself, to her pregnancy and her own job. I don’t want Sarah to worry about me doing my own job, to see me needing security.”
Mr Coyle did thank the people who, regardless of their own views regarding the decision to launch a bombing campaign against ISIS, had reached out to offer him support following the threat.
He said: “The level of support, including people who didn’t even back the decision, has really helped, it’s been a silver lining of sorts in an unfortunate event.
“And you’ve got to love the people who have put themselves forward, saying they will help if I ever need people around me for security. They said ‘the right thing is that we back you.’”
Mr Coyle said that he had received a written apology, but was not sure whether it was actually from the offender.
He said: “I received an email from someone saying it was them and that they shouldn’t have done it. I hope it was them but they used a different name from the Tweet.”
He vowed not to let these threats get to him or interfere with his job.
He said: “I’m not going to be intimidated, I won’t be cowed. My job is to serve the community, and I voted based on how best it would be for the people of Bermondsey and Old Southwark.
“If you allowed people like this to affect you, you would never get anything done. I won’t allow some idiot to prevent me from serving my constituency.”
He said that, after the drama of the last 24 hours, he would now be focused on doing his job and being there for his pregnant wife.
“Sarah is five months pregnant and due in April. We just found out we are expecting a girl, which we are really looking forward to,” he said, before jokingly referencing a certain famous baby in the borough. “I can’t promise that will name her ‘Bermondsey’!”