Lucy Allan MP’s “Unless You Die” Email Explanation

From the BBC News:

An MP accused of faking a death threat has defended modifying a message from a constituent.

Conservative MP for Telford, Lucy Allan, posted an email ending with the words “unless you die” on Facebook.

The email’s author denied writing the final line. Mrs Allan admitted adding it – but said it came from another email sent to her that day.

Allan’s explanation has a number of difficulties.

First, the screenshot shows that Allan was clearly introducing just one email:

MPs get a lot of abuse online – mostly I just take it. That just normalises it makes it acceptable, which it isn’t. So starting today I will publish it – you have been warned! This is from Rusty in Dawley:

There then follows a paragraph from “Rusty’s” email. The BBC’s screenshot shows that “Unless you die” was added to the end of this paragraph, although in the Daily Mail‘s version it appears on a separate line (without a paragraph line break – see below). Either way, though, there is nothing to suggest that two different emails were being published.

Second, the quote from “Rusty” is introduced by a quotation-mark,  and there is no closing quotation-mark; similarly, there is no opening quotation-mark for “Unless you die”, although there is a closing quotation mark. The punctuation is slightly inconsistent (a double-quote at the start, and a single quote at the end), but the overall impression that this is one long quote from a single source.

Third,  “Unless you die” makes no sense on its own. Why would anyone extract this phrase from a different email, without any further information about what the author is trying to convey?

Fourth, it just so happens that although taken out of context, “Unless you die” fits the new context in which it was “accidentally” placed:

…in which case there is no hope. Unless you die.

What are the chances of that?

Allan says that she has reported the “Unless you die” email to police.

If Allan wishes the public to believe that she is innocent of “faking a death threat”, she needs to do two things, as a minimum: (1) she needs to give precise details of where exactly she has made this report, and to ask the relevant police station to confirm publicly that she has done so; (2) she must make more details of this “Unless you die” email public, or at least allow the media to confirm its existence.

An MP faking a death threat is not just some silly indiscretion that should blow over – it is an incredibly serious matter that undermines democracy. Perhaps Allan has been very unlucky, but unless she can show she has not done such a thing, it is difficult to see how she can continue in public life.

False and malicious accusations by MPs and their cronies is a subject of which I have some knowledge.

UPDATE (11 December): Allan has now posted a fuller explanation on Facebook:

There has been confusion and misreporting surrounding recent social media exchanges involving me. Some headlines and stories have claimed that I invented fake death threats and that I admitted to doing so.

This is emphatically not the case and not something, which I have ever done, or would ever do.The facts are that West Mercia Police are currently investigating a death threat made by telephone to my Telford office. The anonymous male voice message, which was reported to police by a member of my staff, stated:

“Hi Lucy Allan I just want to let you know that soon someone is going to f**king kill you, you f**king b*tch. Hope you die.”

At the same time, the Metropolitan Police are investigating a cyber harassment campaign, which has made it difficult for my office staff and me to carry out our roles and duties in Parliament and in Telford.

…I want to make it clear that I do not know who made the death threat on my office answer phone. I am unable to make any connection between it and some of those who regularly direct varying levels of abuse at me on Twitter and Facebook.

Equally, I have acknowledged that a recent Facebook posting made by me drew upon two anonymous communications sent to me. In conflating elements of the two communications, I created a misleading impression, for which I have apologised. In the climate of intimidation created by the sort of cyber abuse to which MPs of all parties are now commonly subjected, on a daily basis, I believe that this error was understandable.

However, it emphatically does not amount to my having invented fake death threats or of ever having admitted to doing so. To claim that I did is wholly false. In reporting what I can only believe was a genuine death threat plus an unacceptable level of social media harassment to the police, I believe I have acted responsibly and within my duties as an MP and my rights as a citizen.

It appears that Allan has been the victim of some appalling behaviour. However, the above does not make it clear whether the “Unless you die” email specifically is being investigated, nor does it explain why “Unless you die” was extracted from a different email and added without any introduction or context.

Lucy Allan

BBC (top) and Daily Mail (bottom) screenshots