Leeds MP Andrea Jenkyns thought about quitting over abusive email targeting seven-year-old son

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A Leeds MP considered leaving politics over an abusive email that was targeted at her seven-year-old son.

Dame Andrea Jenkyns, who has held the Morley and Outwood seat since 2015, said she suffered “sleepless nights” as a result of the message that was sent to her earlier this month.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed that officers were investigating a "racially aggravated malicious communications offence".

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Morley MP Andrea Jenkyns said she thought about 'quitting' over an abusive email that referenced her six-year-old son. Photo: Steve Riding.Morley MP Andrea Jenkyns said she thought about 'quitting' over an abusive email that referenced her six-year-old son. Photo: Steve Riding.
Morley MP Andrea Jenkyns said she thought about 'quitting' over an abusive email that referenced her six-year-old son. Photo: Steve Riding. | Steve Riding

Speaking to the YEP, she said: "It made me want to quit, actually. To go after a young child like that is horrific.

"For 24 hours, I thought – do I just quit? Is it worth it?"

The 49-year-old Conservative said that she is no stranger to abuse. It has included fences being pulled down outside her house, shocking graffiti sprayed on her office, and campaign signs being damaged across the constituency.

After one incident, in which she said a constituent sent dozens of threatening emails, she called on former Home Secretary Priti Patel to intervene.

In another incident, Mrs Jenkyns said she was at the hairdressers when police warned her of a potential threat.

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“There was a guy looking for me on Morley high street saying that he wanted to blow me up," she explained. "In that short moment, I was asking the hairdressers if they had a back door in case I needed to run."

As a result of the abusive email earlier this month, Mrs Jenkyns has directed her team to report every future incident to the police.

Last month, Home Secretary James Cleverly announced a £31m package to help "protect the UK's democratic processes from disruption". Measures could include the provision of bodyguards for MPs considered most at risk.

Mrs Jenkyns said: “I don’t know if we need bodyguards all the time, but every case is different. I never announce where I’m going and only share pictures on social media after the event."

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But she added: "You always get random things that you can’t stop.

“I have security for surgeries now. I used to take Clifford to village fetes and I loved doing that, but this has made me think – can I still do that?"

Mrs Jenkyns and husband Jack Lopresti, a Conservative MP in a constituency near Bristol, welcomed son Clifford in 2017.

Mrs Jenkyns pictured at home with son Clifford in 2018. Photo: James Hardisty.Mrs Jenkyns pictured at home with son Clifford in 2018. Photo: James Hardisty.
Mrs Jenkyns pictured at home with son Clifford in 2018. Photo: James Hardisty. | James Hardisty

Last month's announcement of funding to protect MPs will also pay for extra police patrols, as the Home Secretary said politicians should not have to accept threats as "part of the job".

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It comes after Justice Minister Mike Freer MP told the Daily Mail he would be standing down ahead of the next election, after facing death threats and an alleged arson attack on his constituency office in December.

The debate over the safety of MPs follows the murders of Batley MP Jo Cox in 2016 and Sir David Amess MP in 2021.

More recently, former Labour MP Diane Abbott described feeling "frightened" after alleged comments made by Frank Hester, a Conservative Party donor and businessman based in Horsforth.

Mr Hester reportedly said that Mrs Abbott, the first black woman elected to parliament, made him “want to hate all black women” and that she “should be shot”.

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He admitting making “rude” comments and said he was "deeply sorry", but insisted they had “nothing to do with her gender nor colour of skin”.

Abuse faced by MPs may have been exacerbated in recent years as a result of social media, Mrs Jenkyns believes.

She said: “It's so easy for people to hide behind something. I feel sorry for the next generation of young people, like my little boy. He is going to grow up in that social media environment.”

Following the recent incident, Mrs Jenkyns said that it was her passion for the job that motivated her to continue.

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"I had quite a few sleepless nights over it," she said. "But then my fighting spirit came back. Why should I let people bully me into submission?

"Being an MP is the most amazing job. I love helping people. I won't let one individual stop me."

West Yorkshire Police said that an investigation into the abusive email was ongoing.

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