Man held over series of threats sent to Angela Rayner

A suspect was this morning arrested over a series of threats sent to deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner on the day Sir David Amess was murdered.

The man, 52, was detained in Halifax – near her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency – on suspicion of malicious communications following a string of threats.

Ms Rayner’s spokesman confirmed she was the target and said the messages had an impact on her children and staff.

Police said the man had been bailed but insisted their investigation was ongoing for any other culprits.

The suspect sent the comments on the day Sir David was killed during a vicious constituency meeting attack in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15.

Ms Rayner’s name was trending on Twitter on the day after she used the term ‘Tory scum’ during a rant at the Labour Party Conference in September.

She has repeatedly refused to apologise for the slur, with the Mail On Sunday reporting she may be sidelined by Sir Keir Starmer.

The man, 52, was detained in Halifax - near her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency - on suspicion of malicious communications following a string of threats. Pictured: Angela Rayner

The man, 52, was detained in Halifax - near her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency - on suspicion of malicious communications following a string of threats. Pictured: Angela Rayner

The man, 52, was detained in Halifax – near her Ashton-under-Lyne constituency – on suspicion of malicious communications following a string of threats. Pictured: Angela Rayner

The suspect sent the comments on the day Sir David (pictured) was killed during a constituency meeting in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15

The suspect sent the comments on the day Sir David (pictured) was killed during a constituency meeting in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15

The suspect sent the comments on the day Sir David (pictured) was killed during a constituency meeting in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on October 15

A spokesman for Angela Rayner said: ‘Angela and her staff have received a number of threatening, malicious and abusive communications in recent weeks.

‘We are working with the police to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are brought to justice and Angela would like to thank the police for their work during these investigations.

‘Abuse and threats of this nature don’t just have an impact on Angela but also on her family, her children and her staff who are on the receiving end of these communications.

‘Angela is currently on bereavement leave after losing a close loved one and she looks forward to being back at work as soon as possible.’

On the day she allegedly received the malicious messages, Ms Rayner’s name was plastered all over Twitter following the brutal stabbing on Sir David.

She faced pressure to apologise for her ‘Tory scum’ rant at the Labour party conference across social media.

Sir David, 69, was brutally stabbed to death in front of horrified onlookers at his constituency surgery in Southend.

Ms Rayner tweeted on the day: ‘I’m horrified by the reports regarding David Amess and an incident at his constituency surgery today.

‘We don’t know the details yet but on behalf of all of us in the Labour Party I want to say all of our thoughts are with David and we all hope that he pulls through and is ok.’

But her name and comments were trending on Twitter as many called on her to retract the statement.

She has not yet issued an apology or retraction, but the Mail On Sunday reported on the weekend she is set to be sidelined by party leader Sir Keir.

Sources told the paper he will take Rachel Reeves’ counsel more over Ms Rayner’s and appear more with the Shadow Chancellor at key public events.

Sources told the paper he will take Rachel Reeves' counsel more over Ms Rayner's and appear more with the Shadow Chancellor at key public events. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves at the Labour Party conference on September 29

Sources told the paper he will take Rachel Reeves' counsel more over Ms Rayner's and appear more with the Shadow Chancellor at key public events. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves at the Labour Party conference on September 29

Sources told the paper he will take Rachel Reeves’ counsel more over Ms Rayner’s and appear more with the Shadow Chancellor at key public events. Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer Rachel Reeves at the Labour Party conference on September 29

Allies of Ms Rayner hit back at any suggestion that she was being demoted, pointing out that she was elected by party members.

One said: ‘It’s the party rank-and-file who picked Angela to be the party’s deputy leader – not Sir Keir.’

But the claims come amid reports of frustration by Labour colleagues at Ms Rayner’s behaviour, focusing on her attack on the Tories at last month’s Labour conference.

In a tirade that stunned friends and foes alike, Ms Rayner branded Boris Johnson’s party as ‘homophobic, racist, misogynist scum’.

The comments led to Conservative accusations she had descended into gutter politics.

They also embarrassed Sir Keir, who said he would not have used that language. But he stopped short of calling for her to apologise.

The embarrassment has only deepened after Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle appealed for political discourse to be ‘kinder and based on respect’ in the wake of the killing of Sir David.

The row was reignited at last week’s private meeting of the Shadow Cabinet at Westminster.

The Mail on Sunday understands Sir Keir ally Baroness Jenny Chapman condemned Ms Rayner’s remarks as ‘unacceptable’.

And she claimed they ‘harmed our electoral chances’ as Labour needed to win back voters who defected to the Tories at the last Election.

Ms Rayner has not been at Westminster due to of the bereavement of a person Sir Keir said was ‘someone she treated more or less as her mother’.

 But a source said Shadow Cabinet colleagues nodded their agreement as Lady Chapman spoke.

They said: ‘We are trying to win back voters in the North and Midlands – the so-called ‘Red Wall’ – who went over to the Tories at the last Election.

‘In what world does it help to brand those people as scum and misogynists? It’s not just Keir’s inner circle who are fed up over this.’

They added: ‘There’s increasing disquiet across the Shadow Cabinet at Angela’s behaviour.’

Sir Keir’s office declined to comment on remarks made at the Shadow Cabinet but insisted talk of sidelining Ms Rayner was ‘nonsense’.

Greater Manchester Police’s Detective Sergeant Christopher Dean announced today’s arrest.

He said: ‘Abusive, threatening or bullying behaviour towards anyone is completely unacceptable and we will always do what we can to ensure those responsible are identified and held accountable for their behaviour.

‘Although we have arrested one man our investigation remains very much ongoing and we will continue to pursue all available lines of enquiry to identify all those responsible.’

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