An MP targeted by terrorist Ali Harbi Ali before he murdered Sir David Amess has told how he and his staff now wear stab vests when meeting the public.
Ali, 26, had originally considered killing MPs Mike Freer and Michael Gove – only dropping his meticulous plan to murder the latter after he split from his wife.
Today Ali was handed a concurrent life sentence with a minimum term of 30 years for preparing attacks on Gove and Freer.
It came after harrowing statements from both politicians revealing the toil the plots had on their lives.
Mr Freer’s north London home was scoped out by the terrorist just before Sir David’s murder.
He said: ‘Since the news of the attack and the subsequent visit by police, I have been much more mindful of people around me and keeping distance from people.
‘ I have been very aware that I was potentially at risk from the individual responsible for the attack and this has played on my mind on occasion.
Terrorist Ali Harbi Ali, 26, considered other MPs before murdering Sir David Amess last year
Mike Freer, left, and Michael Gove, right, both considered as targets of Ali before Sir David
‘My husband is, and has been, nervous about my vulnerability at advice surgeries whether I conduct them at my office, at a supermarket or on a pavement. He is also anxious about me walking alone locally or using the tube/bus.
‘Due to this he feels that he always has to be with me when outside and won’t allow me to be on my own. If he knows I am travelling he needs to know where I am, how I’m travelling and when I will arrive. Both my husband and I are now acutely aware of anyone hanging around by my home or at the office.
‘Because of the seriousness of the incident and the risk to my staff, my family and myself, I have had to introduce new security measures. We have stopped all public engagement since the attack unless the meetings are at secure sites.
‘We instead, have had to rely on electronic communications with constituents. New physical measures at the office and my home have been requested and are in the process of being put in place. My staff are now wary of opening the door to the constituency office to the public and so, we are therefore having an additional internal door installed to create a small secure area for anyone attending. My team who receive the attendees at the entrance, will be behind glass. We are also looking at making the rear of the premises more secure and better lit.
Mr Justice Sweeney (left) handing down a whole life sentence at the Old Bailey in London, to Ali Harbi Ali (second right)
Sir David, 69, was murdered by Ali after the terrorist tricked his way into constituency surgery
‘With regards to my team, they have certainly become more heightened when receiving threatening calls and there is anxiety where my staff used to be able to take such things in their stride. I have also had to close the office on at least one occasion as my staff felt vulnerable.
‘Whilst I have stopped attending advice surgeries, new procedures have also been put in place when arranging these.
‘All attendees are now asked to have some ID that confirms their address in the constituency. Also, the way I undertake community based advice surgeries in supermarkets, in local libraries and on the street, will have to be adapted. I and my staff will now wear stab vests and wear mobile panic alarms. I have used an old mobile home as an advice surgery for some years and it is my intention to continue to use this.
‘ However, I would often speak to constituents more privately inside the mobile home but sadly, this will cease as there is no safe escape route from the vehicle. In the future, I will be restricting advice surgeries to venues that have a clear escape route in the room being used for the surgery.’
Ali Harbi Ali, 26, had this black rucksack with him when he carried out his MP reconnaissance
Ali’s phones contained notes on his plan to kill Mr Gove and Mr Freer and were found by police
Ali’s electronic devices also stored a wealth of information relating to Mr Gove under the heading ‘plans’.
The note read: ‘Morning attack: If there is a press presence I can wait it out with them, see if he uses public transport or hired car, bump into him jogging, best outcome, least probability of seeing him.
‘Evening attack: Ring on the doorbell, cause a scene outside to lure him.
‘Night Attack: Door is wooden and swings into house could be kicked in, also glass next to lock open from through that.
‘Scout on Wednesday.’
Asked about the note when in the witness box during the trial, Ali said: ‘That was plans I had to attack and hopefully kill Michael Gove at the time.’
In an impact statement read out in court, Mr Gove said: ‘On the 19th of October 2021 I was visited by officers from the counter terrorism command in the Metropolitan police service.
‘I was advised a man being investigated for the attack on Sir David was believed to have performed reconnaissance on two addresses to me.
‘It was clear from the information the police provided that I had in fact been a potential target of the individual responsible.’
‘My experience and that of my family is incomparable to the suffering and loss experienced by David’s family.
‘It has, however, had a very disruptive effect on my family. Our security and that of our home was threatened and that has put a profound pressure on our lives.
‘Like everyone who knew and worked with David, I have found the impact of losing David has been enormous.’