Members of Parliament (MPs) are being taught self-defence techniques developed by Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad to protect themselves against violent attacks.
Free lessons in the technique, known as Krav Maga, are being offered to all parliamentary staff following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in her constituency of Batley and Spen in June. The technique combines elements of jiu jitsu, judo, boxing and street fighting to defend specifically against gun or knife attacks.
Two MPs and eighteen parliamentary assistants took part in the first session in Whitehall, which is being offered by Parli-Training, the company’s founder Mendora Ogbogbo disclosed.
Ms Ogbogbo said: ‘We are teaching them techniques where if someone comes at them with a knife or a gun, they can disarm the weapons and then run. They are not being taught how to fight.
“Another technique we are teaching them is called the ‘rhino’, where they know how to cover the vulnerable parts of their heads when someone is punching them. This will give them a vital three or four minutes before someone intervenes.
“We also teach a method where if someone is lying on top of them in a fight, they can wriggle from under them and run.”
MPs’ safety has come under the spotlight since the murder of Jo Cox, who was “stabbed and shot” outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, near Leeds on 16 June.
Although she was the first MP to be murdered while serving for over 25 years, other MPs have been subject to attack: in 2010 the Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones was stabbed by an assailant wielding a Samurai sword; local councillor Andrew Pennington was killed in the attack. And in 2010 Labour MP Stephen Timms was stabbed twice in the stomach by an Islamic extremist as he held a constituency surgery in east London.
A study undertaken earlier in the year found that 81 percent of MPs had suffered aggressive or intrusive behaviour from members of the public, one in five had been attacked or threatened with attack, and 42 percent had been threatened with harm.
Additionally, more than half of the 239 MPs who took part in the study had endured experiences which met the legal definition of “stalking or harassment”. Yet security chiefs were complacent about providing MPs with protection against violent attack, deeming them “busy people” who shouldn’t be “bothered” with advice or training on how to protect themselves better.
A source told The Telegraph: “There has been very real progress, but you get the impression that this has led to a touch of complacency and that we’ve been somewhat slow in teaching MPs how to recognize dangers from constituents.
“The line has been that MPs are busy people: we’ve got great risk assessment services that they can access if they want to, so we shouldn’t bother them with more advice or training.
“The fact is that MPs don’t always know what to report and they are being forced to learn the hard way instead of being taught.”