FOUR of Wiltshire’s five MPs are determined to defy the terror threat and resist any proposals to abandon surgeries with constituents that may come in the wake of the killing of their friend and colleague Sir David Amess.

Chippenham MP Michelle Donelan, Devizes MP Danny Kruger, South West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison and their Conservative colleague James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire, are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in their resolve not to have barriers now put between them and the public.

They are to meet with Wiltshire Police top discuss the way forward after senior officers have drawn up plans for tightening security arrangements.

Proposals under consideration include a police presence at surgeries, private guards or the installation of metal detectors, but all the MPs say they would prefer things not to change.

Miss Donelan said: “Sir David Amess was such a lovely and kind man with a great sense of humour who always prioritised his constituency.

“I am truly honoured to have worked with him and my heart and prayers go out to his family, friends and staff.

“There are no words that can really articulate how horrendous and devastating his murder is. It is vital that Members of Parliament remain accessible to serve their local communities.

“I often find constituents who are the least engaged in politics are actually the most in need of my help and so I shall continue to seek them out, plus be accessible and approachable.

Mr Kruger said: “We cannot hide ourselves away”, while Dr Murrison added: “Erecting barriers between electors and elected would be a victory for terrorism” and Mr Gray said there is “an absolute need” for surgeries to continue face-to-face.

Mr Kruger said that although there should be no knee-jerk reaction to the fatal knife attack on Sir David on Friday, he would not want to have a security guard at his surgeries.

“I don’t think that we should make decisions on security lightly, but I am determined to maintain as open a system as possible. We wouldn’t be doing our jobs properly if we hide ourselves away,” he said.

“There might be more that can be done in terms of improving security without disrupting the current system, but the principle of having a guard would be one that I would not personally welcome.

“It all needs to be considered carefully but my instincts are to resist barriers between me and the public.”

Mr Kruger, 46, has operated an appointments-only system at his surgeries since he was elected in 2019. But he is frequently out and about around the town at functions and he admitted MPs did not have complete protection. “I do feel fairly secure, but there is nothing that you can do if someone is determined to cause you harm."

He said it would honour the memory of Sir David if MPs continued the open system. “Sir David was clearly a most decent, kind and generous man and it is a really strong reason why we should keep our current system of democracy alive, because he himself was such an advocate for that system of meeting constituents.

“I hope his life will be a reminder of the importance of maintaining the openness of our democracy.”

Dr Murrison said he also had no intention of not meeting constituents. “I’m truly appalled by the murder of my friend and colleague who was brutally cut down whilst serving his constituents.

“During the summer I did 32 advice surgeries in locations across my constituency. Whilst I haven’t yet heard from the Chief Constable, I doubt he would want to divert police to stand guard over me whilst I meet constituents," he said.

“I have no plans to reduce my face-to-face contact with people. Meeting in person is an intrinsic part of the job as Sir David Amess demonstrated so well. Erecting barriers between electors and elected would be a victory for terrorism.”

Mr Gray said: “As we mourn the brutal murder of my friend and colleague Sir David Amess, I will be seeking to match his commitment to his constituents and to the absolute need for that contact being face-to-face.

“So I will be continuing with my normal surgeries in Calne, Royal Wootton Bassett, Cricklade, Malmesbury and occasionally in Purton and Box; they will remain face to face.

“I will also continue my normal practice of being available up and down our high streets on Fridays and Saturdays. I have never sensed any kind of threat in my 25 years as your MP, and am certain that there will be none now either.”

In the wake of Sir David’s tragic death, there has been much comment from MPs on the abuse and hate mail they have received on social media.

In a blog, Dr Murrison has made it clear that it is now his policy to report threats and abuse straight to the police.

He posted: “There has recently been a marked increase in threats to MPs and their staff, aggressive, vexatious and gratuitously-hurtful behaviour aimed at people in the public eye, trolling and deliberate attempts to offend posted on social media platforms.

“Some, perhaps responding to the coarsening behaviour of the UK’s media and a perception of the antics of politicians, seem to have taken the view that it is legitimate to use public people as punchbags. It is not."

“In my experience of calling out authors of unpleasant material, there is often insufficient appreciation that tolerance to even moderately offensive content has tightened or that actions have potentially serious consequences for them as well as their victims.

“I value courtesy and respect highly and endeavour at all times to treat others as I would wish to be treated, irrespective of their political beliefs. Consequently, I reserve the right to respond in a robust and uncompromising way to messages I or my staff interpret as rude, personally offensive or just plain nasty.

“This may mean messages do not receive a response beyond an automatic acknowledgement and that the sender is added to my social media blocked list.

“Following recent cases involving other MPs, it is now my policy to refer immediately any material I am sent or otherwise become aware of that may fail a test of reasonableness to the police and/or other relevant authority, professional body or organisation.”

Mr Kruger said that although he had experienced abuse on social media, he had not had any death threats like some of his colleagues have reported receiving.

He added: “If I received anything indicating serious intent to cause me harm then I would immediately report it to the police.”