A Labour MP has said she received a death threat because of “inaccurate” media reporting of her views on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Zarah Sutana said she contacted police after receiving a racially abusive email from someone who described her as “Putin’s whore”.
The Coventry South MP was one of 11 Labour backbenchers ordered by Keir Starter to remove their names from a statement by the Stop the War campaign on the situation in Ukraine.
In the statement issued earlier this month, the group said the British government was guilty of “aggressive posturing” – and said Nato “should call a halt to its eastwards expansion”.
‘Mouthpiece for the Kremlin’
And Sultana said the abuse she had subsequently received was directly linked to the way the issue had been reported by the press.
She said the threat included quotes from an anonymous Labour source describing the MPs as a “mouthpiece for the Kremlin”.
“I am in no doubt that this horrific and absurd attack is the direct result of inaccurate media reports and deliberately misleading press comments,” she said in a statement posted on Twitter.
“The environment this has created is an active danger to the safety of public figures, and threatens to narrow our democracy. Like all my colleagues, I am horrified at the Russian invasion of Ukraine. I stand with the people of Ukraine and have unequivocally condemned Putin’s actions.”
Fellow leftwingers Diane Abbott and John McDonnell had also signed the Stop the War statement – as well as Jeremy Corbyn, who now sits as an independent after having the Labour hip withdrawn.
Around an hour after the statement was first reported, the shadow chief whip had written to the 11 MPs, and all their names had been withdrawn from the statement.
‘Labour is under new management’
A Labour spokesperson said: “The small number of Labour MPs that signed the Stop The War statement have all now withdrawn their names. This shows Labour is under new management.
“With Keir Starmer’s leadership there will never be any confusion about whose side Labour is on – Britain, Nato, freedom and democracy – and every Labour MP now understands that.”
Earlier this month, Sir Keir wrote in the Guardian that Stop The War activists were not “benign voices for peace”.
“At best they are naive, at worst they actively give succour to authoritarian leaders who directly threaten democracies. There is nothing progressive in showing solidarity with the aggressor when our allies need our solidarity and – crucially – our practical assistance now more than ever,” he said.
Andrew Scattergood, co-chairman of left-wing campaign group Momentum, said: “These MPs’ steadfast commitment to the Ukrainian people and against Russia’s invasion is beyond question. Indeed, many of them have led the criticism of Putin’s act of aggression today, forcefully and without reservation.
“It beggars belief that the Labour leadership instead focuses on a week-old statement in an attempt to wage factional warfare against them, while a real war wages on against the Ukrainian people.”