Crawley MP Henry Smith has revealed that he has been the victim of a stalker for the past year.
He spoke out after paying tribute to fellow MP Jo Cox who died after being shot and stabbed yesterday.
Jo, a 41-year-old mother-of-two, who had been an MP for just over a year, was killed outside a library in West Yorkshire.
Henry Smith said: “It is absolutely tragic for her two young children. I empathise. I have kids myself and the thought of them being robbed of their mother in such horrific circumstances is absolutely appalling.
“Her family are uppermost in my thoughts.”
But he revealed that he had been stalked by a constituent over the last year although police had now dealt with the matter.
He said the stalker “would leap out at me coming home from London on the train, but I wasn’t physically harmed.”
He said it was ‘not an uncommon experience’ for MPs. “It kind of goes with the territory. There is only so much you can do to protect yourself. It is the nature of the job. This is a public role.”
He added: “Often when people go to their MPs they have exhausted all other avenues with a problem they are experiencing. You get people who are very frustrated and at the end of their tether.
“Despite that most people conduct themselves in a respectful way.
“But over the last six years since I have been an MP there are about a dozen people, who clearly have mental health issues, who have become abusive and cannot let go. Some get very aggressive.
“For example we have one individual who rings the office half a dozen times every single day. There are others who have threatened violence.”
The Crawley MP used to hold regular surgeries at Crawley Library, but now holds them at his constituency office.
“We stopped holding surgeries at the library because there were one or two individuals who would turn up and be a bit intimidating. That is not really fair on staff, my staff and people at the library were a little bit unconfortable with that.
“We decided we would see people by appointment at my constituency office. I used to get some people hanging around and being quite threatening.”
All MPs have been advised to review their security following the death of Jo Cox.