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Yvette Austin reports for BBC News
"The attack raises serious questions"
 real 28k

Sunday, 30 January, 2000, 20:35 GMT
Sword-attack MP leaves hospital

nigel jones Nigel Jones gives a wave as he goes home


MP Nigel Jones has left hospital with bandages on the wounds he suffered in a sword attack which killed a colleague.

He headed home after calling for more protection for public figures.


Every MP ought to have a big minder who goes everywhere with them.
Nigel Jones MP
Mr Jones said he feels MPs should each have individual protection and called for a rethink of security.

Liberal Democrat councillor Andrew Pennington, 39, was killed when the attacker struck at Mr Jones's constituency office in Cheltenham on Friday.

Mr Pennington died from stab wounds to the chest and abdomen.

Mr Jones underwent two hours of surgery after his hands were badly cut. In one hand, he had up to 60 stitches, and he suffered a cut tendon to the other.

in hospital Charles Kennedy visits Mr Jones in hospital
Speaking for the first time since the attack, the MP said: "The way I feel at the moment is that every MP ought to have a big minder who goes everywhere with them."

"We do take a lot of risks and we need to look closely at the security of all public servants.

Mr Jones said some ideas were needed to make sure MPs were accessible to the public but that they were protected from "the wilder element".

Party leader Charles Kennedy visited him in Cheltenham General Hospital.

'Distance' warning

But Mr Kennedy warned against MPs overreacting and distancing themselves from the public with new security measures.


I think all MPs will review the safety and security of their staff
Charles Kennedy
Lib Dem leader
Following the attack, MPs of all parties have held discussions with police in their constituencies about arrangements for surgeries and public meetings. Mr Kennedy said MPs' surgeries operate on open-door policies.

"I think all MPs will review the safety and security of their staff, of their local offices and, of course, of other constituents coming in to see them.

hospital Mr Jones was treated at Cheltenham General Hospital
"People have to have confidence that they're going into a safe environment when they see an MP.

"I would not, however, want us to overreact and start bringing up the shutters and divorcing ourselves from the rest of the public."

Liberal Democrat home affairs spokesman Simon Hughes has called for a national debate on violence, and a fresh look at security for those in public life.

Tributes

Cheltenham MP Mr Jones gave a detailed statement to police.

But he has been told it could be six weeks before he is able to write again.

Charles Kennedy warns against overreacting
Both Mr Jones and Mr Kennedy paid tribute to Mr Pennington.

The party leader said the councillor had been a stalwart supporter of the party and of Mr Jones in particular. He had also been committed to the community, said Mr Kennedy.

Mr Jones said Mr Pennington had been his best friend.

"The true enormity of what happened hasn't hit me yet," he said.

Mr Pennington, of Hesters Way Road, Cheltenham, was first elected to Gloucestershire County Council 15 years ago.

A Cheltenham man has been charged with murdering Mr Pennington and attempting to murder Mr Jones.

Robert Ashman, 49, is in custody, due to appear before the town's magistrates on Monday.

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See also:
28 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Nigel Jones: A constituency man
30 Jan 00 |  UK Politics
Kennedy to visit sword attack MP

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