Tory MP Caroline Ansell speaks out on Facebook death threat as man is jailed
‘It was a Sunday morning - and I wasn't expecting that.’
A Conservative MP who was subject to a death threat on Facebook has told how her son’s “eyes widened” as he read about it in the local paper.
Caroline Answell was threatened by Mark Sands, 51, from Eastbourne, East Sussex.
The factory worker was angry at proposed disability cuts and threatened to go to the home of the MP.
In the offending posts, made in November, Sands wrote: "If you vote to take £30 off my money, I will personally come round to your house... and stab you to death.”
He has now been jailed for four months after police said he had made "a credible threat".
Speaking to the BBC, Ansell said: "I remember where I was when I picked up the call from my local police to say that they had seen a credible threat against my life and that a local man had been arrested and was in custody.
"I was at home - it was a Sunday morning - and I wasn't expecting that."
The Tory MP for Eastbourne, who was elected in 2015, recalled seeing the coverage of the death threat in her local paper.
“I sat with my twelve year old son and his eyes widened as he read that message and saw my photograph alongside the man who had been charged,” she said.
She added: “There is a deal of sort-of low-level abuse and unfortunately I’ve become quite accustomed to that. But this did feel tangibly different.”
Sands has also posted other messages including “End poverty, kill a Tory now.” A picture of the murdered Labour MP Jo Cox also featured on his page with the words “sawn-off 2.2”.
Ansell expressed concern that women in particular would be put off going into politics as result of the abuse that is now frequently dished out online.
She asked: “Why would you go there? Why would you want to embrace that kind of life experience?
“I hope there is something of a sea change in the way in which people view their politicians. Because in my experience I haven’t met one who hasn’t got firmly the best interests of the people they represent at heart.”