Hancock calls in police after West Suffolk Tories in second 2019 General Election hustings row
PUBLISHED: 17:57 05 December 2019 | UPDATED: 17:57 05 December 2019
Health Secretary and West Suffolk MP Matt Hancock has called in the police after his campaign workers said they felt intimidated by Labour activists by two hustings meetings in the constituency.
Last weekend video emerged of rowdy scenes at a hustings meeting in Haverhill. This persuaded Mr Hancock to pull out of a similar hustings session in Newmarket this week.
However his campaign manager Bobby Bennett did go - and Mr Hancock said she was subjected to abuse.
He has now written to Labour candidate Claire Unwin demanding an apology - and has reported the events at the Newmarket meeting to the police.
Mr Hancock wrote: "After the debate, a number of Labour activists rounded on my Campaign Manager, Bobby Bennett, and hurled abuse to her at very close quarters, recording this on a phone, and making Bobby feel physically threatened.
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"You and the other candidates just sat on yours hands, and by your repeated refusal to intervene you are complicit in this intimidation.
"This sort of intimidation is totally unacceptable in politics, and to find it orchestrated in West Suffolk is so sad. Mick Jefferys, the Labour Party candidate at previous elections, was a decent man and would never have stood for it.
"Politics is best done by bringing people together, where we have respect for people holding different views."
The vice-chair of the West Suffolk Labour Party Lora Miller-Jones said she had filmed the incidents at both hustings and that there was no intimidation of anyone.
She said there had been some "angry lecturing" by some members of her party who had been frustrated by what they saw as unfair government policies which had hit local people.
The Conservatives at Newmarket had demanded that the video being made should not be published which she had agreed to - but it would be available to the police if they needed to see it for evidence.
The video of the hustings at Haverhill went viral over the weekend. Mr Hancock said it was disrupted by about 12 Labour activists - and they had upset many members of the public who had turned up to take part in what could have been a reasonable debate.