HOME SECRETARY Priti Patel has formally apologised to Yvette Cooper after a Tory activist was jailed last week for texting that he was hiring “crackheads” to get the Labour MP beaten up.
In a message sent last April to an online acquaintance, Joshua Spencer had implied that Cooper should be punished for opposing a no-deal Brexit, after MPs voted to stop the UK leaving the EU on March 29 last year.
He texted: “We should have left [with] no deal on the 29th before the whore Yvette got her hands on to it and voted to revoke democracy. She will pay. I’m already organising … to hurt her. Amazing what crackheads will do for £100. I’m going to get her beat up.”
Spencer pleaded guilty in January to sending malicious messages about Cooper, who has been representing Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford in parliament since 1997.
Cooper sought an apology in the Commons after Spencer was sentenced for nine weeks, and asked why Conservative member Andrea Jenkyns gave him a positive character reference during the case proceedings.
Spencer, 25, had been arrested in April last year and, a month later, stood as Conservative candidate in the local elections.
He was also present as a Tory representative at Cooper’s general election counting in December, despite being under investigation.
The local Conservative association had apologised to Cooper. “But,” she said, “it is a concern to me that there been, thus far, no similar condemnation or sense of regret expressed by the national party.”
Responding to this, Patel said: “Let me say this right now, on the floor of the house, that that is categorically unacceptable and wrong. There is no place for intimidation at all in public life. In terms of the national party response, she can take it from me, right now, that I am hugely apologetic for what she has had to put up with.”
Regarding the character reference by Jenkyns, Patel said: “My understanding is that her comments were in support very much of giving the individual some help and support that that individual needed in terms of access to mental health.”