Holyrood ponders safety measures for MSPs following death of Sir David Amess

·3 min read

The Scottish Parliament’s governing body will examine safety arrangements for MSPs following the death of Sir David Amess.

Holyrood discussed the death of the Southend West MP on Tuesday as MSPs returned from recess, with Scotland’s party leaders paying tribute to Sir David.

Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone gave a short statement to the Parliament, saying she felt “profound shock and sadness” following the MP’s death.

Sir David died after he was attacked during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on October 15.

Addressing MSPs, Ms Johnstone said: “The Parliament seeks to ensure that you have the support you need to be to enable you and your staff to carry out your duties as openly and safely as possible.

“Members have received various updates about security in recent days, both from the Parliament and from Police Scotland, work is ongoing within the parliament security team.”

She said the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body, which includes MSPs from across parties, would discuss security arrangements at its next meeting.

Nicola Sturgeon said Sir David was “a good and decent man, and a thoughtful and dedicated MP who served his constituents faithfully for almost four decades”.

She continued: “The fact that he was killed while serving his constituents adds an extra dimension to a crime that would have been unspeakable in any circumstances.”

First Minister’s statement
Douglas Ross shared memories of his fellow MP (Fraser Bremner/PA)

Ms Sturgeon said there were “serious issues” around the safety of elected representatives, saying the work of the corporate body was of “vital importance”.

The First Minister added: “Nevertheless, I suspect we are united across this chamber in our determination not to let our democracy be undermined by those who commit heinous crimes or acts of terror.”

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross shared memories of his fellow MP.

Watch: Two-minute silence held to pay tribute to MP Sir David Amess

He said: “He loved Parliament, and he used it to promote the causes closest to him.

“He achieved far more as a backbencher for 38 years than many ministers will achieve in their entire ministerial career.”

Too many politicians in Scotland and the UK were facing threats and abuse, he said, noting a councillor had recently decided to leave politics after his house was firebombed.

Mr Ross continued: “When evil visited David’s surgery 11 days ago, they robbed us of a true public servant, a colleague, a friend and a passionate campaigner.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said Sir David had a “reputation for kindness, generosity and decency”.

First Minister’s Questions
Lorna Slater said the attack ‘shakes our democracy to our very core’ (Russell Cheyne/PA)

Sir David’s death brought back memories of the murder of Jo Cox, who died five years ago.

Mr Sarwar said: “David epitomised Joe’s belief that we have far more in common than that which divides us.”

Scottish Green co-leader, Lorna Slater, said: “This violent attack disrupts our democracy and makes us all question our safety.

“It is an incident which shakes our democracy to our very core because it breaks the principle upon which we build our prosperity and security, that is the peaceful transfer of power.

“We may call loudly and sometimes emotionally for elections and referendums and votes, but not for violence, never for violence.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “Sir David was murdered at work, in a constituency surgery not unlike those held by every one of us in church halls, offices and libraries the country over, week in and week out.

“He was killed performing one of the fundamental duties of a representative democracy, making himself available to his constituents.”

Watch: Boris Johnson hopes Sir David Amess' family 'get the justice they deserve'

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