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Days after lawmaker’s murder prompted fears, UK minister accosted by crowd

britain's housing secretary michael gove walks outside downing street in london
Britain's Housing Secretary Michael Gove walks outside Downing Street

A senior British minister was accosted on the street by angry protesters as he walked to an office in central London on Tuesday, days after the murder of one of his colleagues at a public meeting prompted fears about politicians’ safety.

In footage published on social media, housing minister Michael Gove is seen walking by himself when anti-COVID 19 vaccine protesters approach him shouting obscenities. Police officers rush to surround him.

The minister is then ushered him into a nearby building.

britain's housing secretary michael gove walks while surrounded by police officers and protesters, in london
Britain’s Housing Secretary Michael Gove walks while surrounded by police officers and protesters, in London, Britain October 19, 2021, in this still image obtained from a social media video. Paul Brown/Bakedbeanmedia/via REUTERS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT

“Thank you to the Met (police) for their swift reaction- I’m grateful to their officers for their thoughtfulness,” Gove said on Twitter.

The incident took place after Gove’s Conservative Party colleague David Amess, 69, was stabbed to death at a church on Friday in Leigh-on-Sea, east of London, as he met voters in his constituency.

The death of the second British lawmaker to be killed in five years has prompted calls for better security for politicians and action to address the growth in online abuse directed at them.

London’s Metropolitan Police said officers had safely escorted the lawmaker into a nearby building after a group of people had tried to surround him during a protest in Westminster.

No arrests were made, but police said they would review footage from officers’ body worn cameras to see if there had been any offences committed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman said the behaviour of the protesters was “abhorrent” and they expected the police to treat it seriously.

“These scenes would be unacceptable at any time – but seeing them this week is utterly appalling,” Nick Thomas-Symonds, the home affairs spokesman for the opposition Labour Party, said on Twitter.

Police are continuing to question a 25-year-old man arrested at the scene of Amess’s murder under counter-terrorism laws, saying the killing could be linked to Islamist extremism.

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