Defeated Tory leadership hopeful Penny Mordaunt has received an increased security detail after she was the subject of death threats.
According to a report, someone threatened to “shoot her in the head” and “kill her family” if she did not step down as an MP during her campaign to replace Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The Daily Telegraph reports the threats against 49-year-old Mordaunt, who is MP for Portsmotuth north, are now being investigated by police.
The messages were received by Mordaunt in the final days of her campaign before she was knocked out by the final two – Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss.
The Telegraph reports that a letter was sent to Mordaunt’s constituency office in Portsmouth, Hampshire.
Hampshire Constabulary visited Mordaunt’s HQ last Friday afternoon to interview her about the letter and carry out a security check.
A police spokesman for Hampshire Police said: “At 11.50am on July 22, we received a report of a letter containing threats to kill a Portsmouth woman and her family which was sent to her office in Lakeside, North Harbour.
“We attended and safeguarding measures were put in place to minimise the risk to the woman and her family, employees and the wider community.
“Our enquiries into this incident are ongoing and it has been referred to the Parliamentary Liaison Team. We take the safeguarding of our MPs incredibly seriously and there are robust systems in place to ensure they can carry out their job safely.”
Mordaunt was voted out of the race last Wednesday having been a favourite, particularly among the rank and file members, for most of the race to be PM.
She was subjected to criticism from a number of fronts, including a peer who claimed she was not fit to be a minister.
Mordaunt said: “I’m very grateful to the police for their swift action.”
There has been heightened concerns about MPs’ safety in the wake of the murder of Conservative Sir David Amess, who was stabbed to death last October. Labour MP Jo Cox was killed in 2016 after being shot and stabbed at her constituency surgery in a district of Leeds.
Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner for Hampshire – who supported Mordaunt’s campaign to be Tory leader – said she was “appalled” by the new threats.
She said: “The threats both online and in person towards public figures are growing and getting worse.
“The death of Jo Cox and Sir David Amess reminds us that often these violent attacks are linked to people who are suffering with mental health issues.
“The threats made to Penny Mordaunt are deeply worrying and it’s right that Hampshire Constabulary looks into the threat fully.”
The commissioner also revealed people have threatened to “slit her throat” during her time in political office. Two years ago, someone attempted to break into her house at night and started banging on her door.
Jones added: “In March 2020 someone tried to break into my house in the middle of the night. He was armed with bottles of bleach and glass, which police suspected he would use to attack me.
“He was banging on my front door for over 15 minutes and was arrested at my home.”
“Online threats have involved someone threatening to ‘cut my throat’ twice on a Portsmouth Political forum social media page.
HAMPSHIRE PCC http://www.hampshire-pcc.gov.uk
“I’ve had nails in my car tyres, three months consecutively; I’ve had people fire gas canisters at me during public meeting – I thought I was being shot at. It was one of the most frightening things that has ever happened to me.
“Being a public figure is not easy, which is why so many people are put off doing it.”