Man dodges jail despite ‘chilling’ noose threat against Labour MP Peter Kyle days after David Amess murder

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Labour MP Peter Kyle told magistrates he was left “terrified” by the “chilling” threat made just a week after Tory MP Sir David Amess was murdered.

An anti-lockdown protestor who issued “chilling” threats to a Labour MP while pointing at makeshift gallows and a noose outside Parliament has been spared jail, our sister title LondonWorld reports.

Shadow Cabinet member Peter Kyle was walking back to his office when Lance O’Connor, 57, called out his name while pointing at the gallows and noose and told him: “Traitor! This is what we do to traitors!”

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The Labour member for Hove in Sussex, who is shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland, told magistrates he was left “terrified” by the “chilling” threat made just a week after Tory MP Sir David Amess was murdered.

The threats were also made just four days after Michael Gove was called an “absolute w*nker” and a “f***ing idiot” by anti-lockdown protestors, which can be seen in the video above.

The photograph Peter Kyle took of Lance O’Connor pointing at the noose and gallows. Credit: Peter KyleThe photograph Peter Kyle took of Lance O’Connor pointing at the noose and gallows. Credit: Peter Kyle
The photograph Peter Kyle took of Lance O’Connor pointing at the noose and gallows. Credit: Peter Kyle | Peter Kyle

O’Connor, of Plaistow, Newham, had denied one count of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with intent to cause Mr Kyle harassment, alarm or distress when he appeared at Westminster Magistrates Court on 3 May.

He also denied calling out Mr Kyle’s name, calling him a “traitor” or saying “this is what we do to traitors” while pointing at the gallows and noose.

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He admitted bringing the gallows, which he built from plastic guttering, to a protest on Parliament Square on 20 October last year but denied it would cause anyone any harassment, alarm or distress.

Labour MP Peter Kyle. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty ImagesLabour MP Peter Kyle. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Labour MP Peter Kyle. Credit: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images | Getty Images

O’Connor claimed the gallows was just “a bit of plastic guttering” which he had made to show his “artistic temperament”.

He even made the outlandish claim that MPs should resign if they could not “take this sort of criticism”.

Following a half-day trial, he was found guilty and handed a 12 month conditional discharge.

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He must also pay £200 in compensation to his victim, £440 in costs and a £22 victim surcharge.

He told the court he intends to appeal the decision which he branded “an absolute travesty”.

Labour MP Peter Kyle, left, with Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer campaigning during the local elections. Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty ImagesLabour MP Peter Kyle, left, with Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer campaigning during the local elections. Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images
Labour MP Peter Kyle, left, with Rachel Reeves and Keir Starmer campaigning during the local elections. Credit: JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images | AFP via Getty Images

The public gallery was full of O’Connor’s supporters throughout the trial, who cried “shame on you” when the guilty verdict was delivered.

Mr Kyle, who was serving as a Shadow Schools minister at the time, had been having lunch with staff and was walking back towards his office in Portcullis House when his attention was drawn to his name being called out by someone among a small group of protestors.

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The MP, who gave evidence in court from the witness box, said: “I heard a man calling my name out. I did not recognise his voice.

“I could hear one voice calling out my name but there were multiple people shouting. It was an angry shout.

“As I processed it I turned back again to have another, closer look and I could not quite believe what I saw.

“I saw a man standing there holding a gallows with a noose. When I looked the first time I couldn’t quite take it in, then the full impact of what I had seen struck me.”

Mr Kyle said he snapped a picture of the gallows and noose.

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Sir David Amess who was brutally murdered last yearSir David Amess who was brutally murdered last year
Sir David Amess who was brutally murdered last year

He told the court: “When I looked across the road I saw a man shouting ‘this is what we do with traitors’.

“I thought this was a direct threat to myself and a direct threat to other directly elected MPs.

“I felt threatened and chilled. In the context of what was happening in the time with David Amess having been killed less than a week before.

“It was chilling and horrifying. When I heard the phrase ‘this is what we do to traitors’ I walked back towards my office.”

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The Labour MP told the court that he was so scared that he ran back to his office.

“I was very deeply shocked,” he said.

“It is fair to say the chilling effect of it did make me sit down and think really carefully about my own security and the impact on my family and people in my care.

“If you are an MP when you are simply going about your business and doing your constitutional duty, the word traitor is a very threatening word.

“It should not be used lightly. It should not be used by someone holding an instrument traditionally used to execute people.”

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Stephen Tiller, who later called police, said he went up to the defendant and asked what the gallows was for, to which he replied to parliament and replied “all those f***ers in there”.

He asked whether O’Connor wanted to hang doctors and nurses to which he said “no, only the instigators”.

He said: “He then started talking about Bill Gates for some weird reason.

“I thought he was completely off his trolley to be honest.

“He also said ‘the death penalty does not exist in this country any more but if people commit treason they should go to the gallows.’

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“I was very conscious of the gallows as they reminded me of ones that were erected for Mike Pence during the January 6 insurrection.”

O’Connor told the trial: “I did not think it was inappropriate.

“I don’t think it was insensitive. I didn’t even consider whether it was. If MPs can’t take this sort of criticism maybe they should be in a different career, like Peter Kyle was saying.

“I deny calling him a traitor or shouting his name. I never once pointed to that noose. I did not say ‘this is what we do to traitors.’

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“I was just going there to show my artistic temperament. I had no intention of causing anyone any distress or alarm. It was a plastic gallows, just a bit of plastic. It was a symbol, how am I going to hang anyone with a bit of plastic guttering?

“Historically for high treason you were hung until you were assumed dead.”

District Judge Neeta Minhas told him: “I have found Peter Kyle to be a credible witness. I am satisfied that you did say those words.

“There can be no other reason to say those words save for that you were intending to cause Peter Kyle harassment alarm or distress.”

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Alexander Alawode, prosecuting, said O’Connor could face up to 12 weeks behind bars, with the ‘starting point’ being a community order.

Martin Smith, in mitigation for O’Connor, said his client should get a fine, adding that he is on benefits and suffers from PTSD and depression.

This article was originally published by our sister title LondonWorld