MP described jailed Tory as a "decent and honest person"

AN MP described a fellow Tory as a "decent and honest person", despite him threatening to pay a drug addict to have Labour MP Yvette Cooper beaten up.

Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:01 pm
Updated Friday, 7th February 2020, 2:02 pm
Andrea Jenkyns and Joshua Spencer

A statement from Morley and Outwood MP Andrea Jenkyns was read out in court during the sentencing of 25-year-old Joshua Spencer, who was jailed this morning. He admitted sending a message to a friend during a debate about Brexit, which was later passed to Ms Cooper, calling her a "whore" and that he was "organising to have her hurt".

He added: "It's amazing what a crackhead will do for £100. I'm going to get her beat up."

But his solicitor, Sheik Amin, read a statement from Ms Jenkyns on Spencer's behalf, saying that she had known him for several years.

Sign up to our daily Wakefield Express Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

It read: "He is a decent and honest person, and whose heart is in the right place.

"He has had an incredibly difficult life so far", referring to the suicide of his father and his own battle with mental health.

However, she added: " I do not condone what he wrote in any manner."

She has since taken to social media to defend giving Spencer a character reference, saying she feared for his mental state and his well being.

Spencer, of Eddystone Rise, Knottingley, admitted a charge of sending an offensive and menacing message at Leeds Magistrates' Court and was jailed for nine weeks and given a 10-year restraining order to stay away from Ms Cooper and her former office manager, Jade Botterill.

Mr Amin said that Spencer, who is unemployed, knows that any political aspirations he had were now gone.

As he was handcuffed he said: "I'm extremely sorry for any upset caused. I'm genuinely sorry."

However, statements read out on behalf of Ms Cooper, her daughter Ellie, and Jade Botterill, outlined how the threat had affected them all.

Ms Cooper's statement read: "It has sadly become part of the job of an MP to ensure we do not allow threats of violence to deter us from working hard for our constituents and do not show weakness in the face of attempts to intimidate us. That doesn’t mean it is always easy, especially when the threat comes from close to home.

"It is only three and a half years since my friend and colleague Jo Cox was killed while in her constituency. Threats of violence cannot be dismissed as banter between friends. Intimidation and violence has no place in our politics.

"He has said that he was responsible for organising a demonstration in Castleford outside my constituency office and in the town centre in June 2019 after the police investigation had begun. At that demonstration it was reported that someone had called for me to be 'burnt' and incidents were reported to the police.

"There is evidence that the demonstration attracted people with far-right views from outside the area."