'Far-right' extremist jailed for threatening to shoot MP who backed second Brexit vote

George Martin
·3 min read
Colin Brown (left) threatened to shoot Bridget Phillipson. (PA)
Colin Brown threatened to shoot Labour MP Bridget Phillipson. (PA)

A far-right extremist has been jailed for threatening to shoot and kill North East MP Bridget Phillipson over her support for a second Brexit referendum.

Colin Brown, who was mentally unwell and had a previous conviction for verbally abusing council staff, said he wanted to make an example of Phillipson, who represents Houghton and Sunderland South.

Brown also threatened to "hurt" Sunderland Central MP Julie Elliott and said politicians needed "shooting".

He had previously "expressed support" for the murder of MP Jo Cox by a far-right killer and warned he would drive a car into a mosque in a bid to target Muslims.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer discusses employment and post Covid-19 support for businesses with staff at engineering components manufacturer, Beard and Fitch in Harlow today where he was joined by shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Bridget Phillipson MP. PA Photo. Picture date: Thursday July 9, 2020. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
Bridget Phillipson on a constituency visit with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer. (PA)

A judge jailed Brown for 18 months on Tuesday, saying the length of the term should act as a "deterrent to others who seek to poison democratic and political debate by threatening those who disagree with you".

Phillipson described Brown’s threats as "very worrying and distressing" and added: "I work hard to serve my community. I am concerned for the safety of myself, my family and my staff.

"Due to the repeated nature and violence involved in the threats towards me I am fearful he may carry out his threats.

Read more: Sister of murdered MP Jo Cox named an MBE for tackling social isolation

"My role in the community puts me in contact with members of the public on a regular basis, at public forums and surgeries.

"I am concerned he will attend one of those events and put myself and other people in danger. I understand the strength of feeling around political issues.

"I work tirelessly to support my community and it should not be part of my role or an expectation people can make threats without facing consequences.

"They must understand the impact these things have."

Brown was jailed for 18 months at Newcastle Crown Court. (Google)
Brown was jailed for 18 months at Newcastle Crown Court. (Google)

Newcastle Crown Court heard Brown was an inpatient at Hopewood Hospital in Sunderland when he attended a meeting, attended by doctors and health professionals, in May 2019 and was asked about the beliefs he had expressed about Jo Cox.

Prosecutor Kevin Wardlaw said: "He stated there would be more Jo Coxes."

The court heard Brown was told his opinions could amount to criminal behaviour and he responded by saying "all politicians are criminals".

While being escorted back to his room at the hospital Brown said he could "easily obtain a rifle and shoot Mrs Phillipson".

Wardlaw said it was noted Brown had "no remorse" for the comments and threats he was making when confronted.

It was during day release from the hospital in December 2019 Brown made a series of calls to medical staff repeating the threats to Phillipson and said he was going to hurt fellow MP Elliott.

Brown said during the conversations "I'm doing vigilante democracy" and warned: "I've got to do what I've got to do."

Judge Tim Gittins told Brown some of his statements were "chilling", adding: "It is clear you hold some views that are extreme and appalling in relation to race and religion.

"You took exception to the local MP's stance on withdrawal of the UK from the European Union. You are perfectly entitled to hold a different view to anyone, as is she.

"What you are not entitled to do is threaten serious violence and death to that person holding a different view."

"It is clear you intended your threats to cause serious damage, to cause terror by your words."

Brown, of no fixed address, admitted two charges of making threats to kill, using threatening behaviour with intention to cause harassment, threatening to damage property and sending a malicious communication.

He also admitted assault and common assault after he threw a chair and injured two health care workers while being treated in hospital.

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