Tory Mark Francois has called on ministers to "drain the Twitter swamp" and launch a major crackdown on "toxic" social media posts about MPs.

Speaking in the wake of the death of Sir David Amess – the Southend West MP who was killed in a suspected act of Islamist terror – Mr Francois said he was proposing “David’s law”.

The Conservative former minister said the Government's Online Harms Bill should be toughened up "markedly" to stop MPs being "systematically vilified".

Sir David was stabbed multiple times while at a constituency surgery at a church in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday.

Counter terror cops have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder and have said there may be a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.

The death has led to criticism of the Home Office for failing to protect MPs in the wake of Jo Cox's murder in 2016 and over its Prevent anti-extremism programme.

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©2021 Steve Bainbridge)
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Others have levelled criticism at social media companies like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for failing to tackle online hate.

Mr Francois, who said sir David was his “best and oldest friend in politics”, said he wanted Mark Zuckerberg and Jack Dorsey, the CEOs of Facebook and Twitter to answer for their "inactions".

He said: “In the last few years David had become increasingly concerned about what he called the toxic environment in which MPs, particularly female MPs were having to operate in.”

He added: “He was appalled by what he called the vile misogynistic abuse which female MPs had to endure online and he told me very recently that he wanted something done about it.”

He told fellow MPs in the the Commons on Monday that while MPs should be open to "legitimate" criticism, they should be protected from "horrendous abuse".

He said: “I suggest that if we want to ensure that our colleague didn’t die in vain, we collectively all of us pick up the baton, regardless of our party and take the forthcoming Online Harms Bill and toughen it up markedly.

“So let’s put, if I may be so presumptuous, David’s law onto the statute book, the essence of which would be that while people in public life must remain open to legitimate criticism, they can no longer be vilified or their families subject to the most horrendous abuse, especially from people who hide behind a cloak of anonymity with the connivance of the social media companies for profit.”

The MP went on: “If the social media companies don’t want to help us drain the Twitter swamp, then let’s compel them to do it by law because they’ve had more than enough chances to do it voluntarily.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (

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During the debate, Boris Johnson announced that Southend would get city status - something which Sir David had long campaigned for.

He also paid tribute to one of the “nicest, kindest and most gentle” MPs.

Mr Johnson praised the Southend West MP as a politician who “simply wanted to serve the people of Essex” as a backbench Conservative.

He vowed that the “contemptible act of violence” that took Sir David’s life on Friday at a surgery for constituents would not “detract from his accomplishments as a politician or as a human being”.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, meanwhile, urged MPs not to "lose sight of" the fact that Sir David's death was "an act of terror".

He said: "Even as a political opponent he was a man and a politician we could all learn much from. I use that phrase - ‘political opponent’ - very deliberately. Because David held his beliefs passionately but gently. I believe that not only can we learn from that but that we have a duty to do so.

"Civility in politics matters.

"But we must not lose sight of the fact that David’s killing was an act of terror on the streets of our country."

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