This was the chilling phone message an anonymous male caller left for Worcester MP Michael Foster on the day he joined fellow MPs to vote to pass the Hunting Bill.
While thousands of pro-hunt demonstrators made their point in Parliament Square on Wednesday, September 15, one decided he would make his personal views known by ringing Mr Foster’s Worcester office and telling the MP he had three weeks to live.
Police immediately imposed tight security measures to protect Mr Foster, his wife Shauna, and their three children, Katie, 13, Lucy, 10, and eight-year-old Mark.
With one day still left to run before the dramatic death threat’s deadline expires, Mr Foster revealed the shocking news in an exclusive interview with the Evening News.
And the MP has this defiant message for the perpetrator: “If you believe you can make me change my mind through intimidation, then you are destined to fail.”
Mr Foster – who initiated the bid to hunting with dogs with a Private Members Bill in 1997 after asking Evening News readers what issue they wanted him to fight for – was at Westminster when his office relayed the news of the malicious phone call.
Not knowing quite how to take it, he notified the police immediately.
“Because of what was going on in Parliament Square on that day I think it focused people’s minds on what potentially could happen,” he said.
“But we had no way of tracing the call and to this day we do not know whether it was a crank.”
But since that day Mr Foster has been at the mercy of the authorities, who took the threat extremely seriously.
“I’m not going to go into what protection we have been given, but I can say that we have taken whatever advice the authorities have given us and co-operated as best we can, ” he said.
“We have continued going about our normal daily routine as best we can, and it has certainly not stopped me carrying out any engagements in my constituency.”
Mr Foster said he realised that this was not the type of action the majority of hunt supporters would resort to and said a lot of them would probably be horrified at what has happened.
“Any protesters, on any issue, who believe through intimidation they can make an MP change their mind, is destined to fail and has to fail. Otherwise that MP is not only finished politically but he has put himself at greater risk of this type of thing happening again, ” he said.
“These people know they can’t win the argument, but they still go for the fight which moves them away from being a protester and into a thug.
“If people want to save their sport they should not to try and win friends and influence people like this.”
Ch Insp Sharon Gibbons, who is responsible for local policing in South Worcestershire, said: “We are aware of a threat that was made by telephone to Mr Foster’s office and have put plans in place that enable us to take appropriate action should it be necessary.
“We always take seriously any matters – such as threats like this – that are reported to us and respond accordingly.
Lifting the stone on darker side of protest
THERE are hunt supporters who feel so strongly about a ban on hunting that they are willing to go a step further than themajority of peaceful protesters.
The militant hunt supporter group, the so-called Real Countryside Alliance, is the most strident pro-hunt group and is said to model itself on the Real IRA.
It has been steadily growing for the past two-and-a-half years and its members argue that only a nationwide campaign of civil disobedience and escalating criminal acts will convince the Government to listen to its concerns.
The group, set up members of the Countryside Alliance who believed their leaders were not being tough enough on the Government, are famous for blockading motorways with slow moving convoys, flyposting the offices of anti-hunt MPs and taping over speed cameras.
It is also suspected that the secret group is behind tactics such as killing foxes and leaving them dangling on poles outside the homes of hunt opponents.
Another splinter group, the Countryside Action Network, has also said they are happy to break the law and indulge in civil disobedience.
Hunters’ disgust at terror tactics
THE revelation that Worcester MP Michael Foster was made the subject of a death threat due to his anti-hunting stance has disgusted members of the pro-hunting community.
Hunt supporters from the Countryside Alliance and the Worcestershire Hunt have vehemently condemned the use of violence and threatening behaviour to win an argument.
Bob Brierley, spokesperson for the Worcestershire Hunt, said the person who feels the need to cause physical or verbal abuse has lost the argument.
“There are people who do things properly and those who don’t, ” he said.
“The people who don’t put a small section of the hunt supporters in a bad light.
“Mr Foster has tried to disenfranchise tens of thousands of people and it is obvious that these people will try and disenfranchise him.
“But we haven’t got to threaten him with violence to beat him. We will beat him at his own game.”
Claire Rowson, West Midlands regional director of the Countryside Alliance, said to all intents and purposes their demonstrations were peaceful in terms of getting messages across.
“There is a lot of anger in the countryside, and while we will always try to retain the moral high ground, we can’t be responsible for controlling the behaviour of every individual,” she said.
“Unfortunately, there are splinter groups and it is deeply regrettable that some of their strategies seem to be not well thought out.
“But the Countryside Alliance wants inter-action with anti-hunt MPs and would never resort to ridiculous things like death threats,” she said.
As well as receiving a death threat, Mr Foster has been involved in other incidents during the last few weeks.
The Evening News reported on Friday, September 24 how more than 150 pro-foxhunting protesters gatecrashed a Labour Party meeting in Kidderminster hoping to make the strength of their feelings known to the MP – but he was not there.
Source : This is Stratford