JOHN HOWELL has been accused of using the murder of fellow MP Jo Cox as an
JOHN HOWELL has been accused of using the murder of fellow MP Jo Cox as an “excuse” after Prime Minister David Cameron held a private meeting in Henley.
Responding to a letter writer in last week’s Henley Standard, the Henley MP said Mrs Cox’s death in her Birstall constituency on June 16 showed there was a need for stricter security around MPs.
Mr Cameron visited Phyllis Court Club three days before to discuss the EU referendum but was criticised for not opening the meeting to the public or press.
Henley Conservatives said the meeting was invitation-only “on the advice of security services”.
Mr Howell said Mrs Cox’s murder “shows only too clearly why the meeting with the Prime Minister had to be invitation-only”.
He added: “I deeply regret that it has taken the murder of a colleague to show that the need for security is neither idiotic nor an excuse. It is very real and we live with the need for it day by day.”
But he was accused by residents and councillors of using Mrs Cox’s death to score political points.
On Twitter, anti-bus cuts campaigner Donna Crook said: “It’s disgusting to use Jo Cox’s murder as an excuse as the meeting was before her death.”
Mr Howell replied: “You simply fail to acknowledge the situation facing MPs which led, sadly, to the death of Jo Cox. Shame on you.”
Later, he added: “When you have faced death threats, as I have, you will understand.”
Town councillor Kellie Hinton said: “I am dumbfounded and offended our MP has used the murder of Jo Cox to score political points.”
Councillor Ian Reissmann said: “Howell’s remarks are tasteless, cynical and poorly judged. He should be ashamed.”
Mr Howell responded: “These people should stop playing politics with this issue; they have completely missed the point. Ignoring security concerns, as some local councillors did, is likely to lead to the same result as with Jo Cox, particularly with someone as high profile as the Prime Minister.
“I take my advice from the police and security services. When these other people are faced with death threats we will see what they say.”
In December, Mr Howell received threatening emails after he voted for air strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria. In 2012 he was sent death threats after an email exchange about the Israeli-Palestinian conflic.