Tory MP calls police to protect him against 81-year-old campaigner

Police were called to protect a Tory MP from a group of elderly campaigners after he insisted they had not given him assurances about security.

Friends of the Earth volunteer Liz Marsden called Richard Ottaway to let him know that she and about eight others were coming to present a petition against the lobbying bill.

But when the group arrived they found two officers and a police car blocking the entrance to the building.

Ottoway refused to go outside and meet his constituents, which included an 81-year-old woman.

"The irony is we were handing in a petition against the lobbying bill," Marsden told the Independent.

"It is ironic that the gagging bill is motivated by a fear of people taking part in democracy, and our group was made up of interested constituents trying to talk to their MP and he wouldn't let our voices be heard.

"I think he had in his head that we were raging campaigners, but we were a group of people who were mostly retired and all aligned with charities."

Speaking to the Croydon Advertiser, Marsden said: "They asked me how many people would be turning up and I said I couldn't personally guarantee, but I'm sure they're all lovely.

"I suggested a compromise that I come in and everyone else waited outside.

"When I was inside I asked him to go out and meet the group but he refused.

"In the end he did see everyone because they were milling around outside for so long that it was time for him to go home.

"He came out and said, briefly, that he couldn't meet them because he didn't know who they were. Everyone was saying: 'We're your constituents.'

"The group wasn't pleased. One lady said she was intimidated by his manner. The lady who said that was with her mother, who is 81."

Ottaway told the Evening Standard: "We got in touch to ask for assurances about security issues and she failed to give those assurances.

“Out of concern for my two staff and the five or so other constituents who had appointments with me, I called the local police team to notify them of a protest.

"If you have an unknown number of people descending on your office you have to take precautions. I would do the same again."

Police reportedly stayed at the scene for just two minutes before departing.

They said: "Officers spoke to all parties. No offences were identified and the officers left."