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Widower of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox says protesting outside politicians’ homes is an ‘act of intimidation’ after Chris Packham defends Just Stop Oil’s ‘irresponsible’ tactics


The widower of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox has said protesting outside politicians’ homes is an ‘act of intimidation’.

Brendan Cox has intervened after campaign groups such as Just Stop Oil and the Palestine Solidarity Movement have started waving banners and signs directly outside the homes of MPs.

His comments come after BBC presenter Chris Packham defended eco-zealot group Just Stop Oil’s tactics.

Mr Cox told Times Radio: ‘It’s absolutely vital that we protect the right of protest, and that can be vigorous protest,’ he said.

‘It can be annoying, protest, it can be an irritant. What it can’t be, though, is intimidation. And I think the line that I would draw would be obviously where there is, physical violence or where there is on the property.

Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox has said protesting outside politicians' homes is an 'act of intimidation'

Brendan Cox, the widower of murdered Labour MP Jo Cox has said protesting outside politicians’ homes is an ‘act of intimidation’

Mr Cox's wife Jo (pictured) was shot and stabbed by extremist Thomas Mair as she attended her Batley and Spen constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, during the referendum on EU membership in June 2016

Mr Cox’s wife Jo (pictured) was shot and stabbed by extremist Thomas Mair as she attended her Batley and Spen constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, during the referendum on EU membership in June 2016

BBC presenter Chris Packham has came out in defence of Just Stop Oil 's protesting outside MPs' homes

BBC presenter Chris Packham has came out in defence of Just Stop Oil ‘s protesting outside MPs’ homes

‘But being outside an MP house is clearly an act of intimidation; intimidation almost no matter how they behave.’

Mr Cox’s wife Jo was shot and stabbed by extremist Thomas Mair as she attended her Batley and Spen constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, during the referendum on EU membership in June 2016. 

That year white supremacist Mair was jailed for life for her murder.

Since her death, Mr Cox founded the Together Coalition and The Jo Cox Foundation while also raising the couple’s children, Cuillin, 13, and Lejla, 11. 

His comments stand in contrast to BBC’s Springwatch presenter Packham who has drawn a furious backlash after claiming groups should be entitled to a ‘portfolio of protests’.

His comments came amid renewed fears over MPs’ safety, with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak having used a speech on Friday to warn against increasing intimidation.

There has been recent condemnation of Just Stop Oil's claim that targeting MPs at their homes is justified

There has been recent condemnation of Just Stop Oil’s claim that targeting MPs at their homes is justified

Tory former minister Tobias Ellwood recently saw his family's home surrounded by a large group of pro-Palestinian protesters

Tory former minister Tobias Ellwood recently saw his family’s home surrounded by a large group of pro-Palestinian protesters

Packham told Times Radio on Monday morning: ‘I think that we need a portfolio of protests, basically, because we need a radical flank and Just Stop Oil are seen by many as that radical flank.

‘They are the people who in some people’s minds go a step too far. And that might be, you know, standing outside an MP’s house.

‘But the fact is that they are motivated, as I am, by a manifest fear for the health of our future.

‘The science tells us we have to act. These people are frightened for my future, for your future, for the future of any children they might have. They need to draw attention to this issue.’

Packham added that it was not going too far to target MPs’ home addresses if it remained a ‘peaceful, non-violent demonstration’. 

‘If this is a peaceful, non-violent demonstration then we in the UK – for all the laws that have been radically changed in very recent times – have to preserve that right to protest,’ he said.

‘We’ve got a law out there, it needs to be applied equally to everyone.’

The comments drew a stinging rebuke from Downing Street, with No10 pointing to the establishment of a new policing protocol to crackdown on the targeting of MPs’ homes.  

It followed a recent incident in which Tory former minister Tobias Ellwood saw his family’s home surrounded by a large group of pro-Palestinian protesters. 

Last month dozens of people from the Palestine Solidarity Movement waved Palestinian flags and bellowed chants of 'ceasefire' and 'free Palestine' using a megaphone outside Tory MP Tobias Ellwood's home

Last month dozens of people from the Palestine Solidarity Movement waved Palestinian flags and bellowed chants of ‘ceasefire’ and ‘free Palestine’ using a megaphone outside Tory MP Tobias Ellwood’s home 

The PM’s official spokesman said: ‘The defending democracy policing protocol agreed last week said any protests at the home of MPs, councillors and other elected representatives will be considered intimidatory.

‘And the police will use their powers under the Criminal Justice and Policing Act to direct protesters away.

‘We have seen examples that are clearly unacceptable and it’s right members of the public expect the police to tackle this sort of behaviour and put a stop to it.’

He added: ‘It is clearly irresponsible to encourage people to protest at the home addresses of MPs.’

Packham’s comments were also criticised by Labour MP Steve McCabe, who told GB News: ‘What a person does in their public life should be open to criticism and interrogation.

‘But people are entitled, and particularly their families, to a degree of privacy.’

He added: ‘Where actions are designed to deliberately intimidate or threaten specific individuals or where they go beyond the bounds of what might be classed as legitimate protests – targeting peoples’ homes, their families, things like that – I don’t think that is acceptable and I don’t think it should be allowed.’

Tory peer and former health minister Lord Bethell said: ‘Chris Packham is totally wrong with his “don’t ban protests outside MPs” homes’ shtick.

‘You don’t win arguments by intimidating people. You just coarsen the public debate.’

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Chris Packham is a freelancer, not a member of staff, and he’s not currently on air. His private activities and views are his own, not the BBC’s.’



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