Harrowing tales of stalking as MPs seek to tighten law

Mark D'Arcy
Parliamentary correspondent


"On one occasion he sent me a text containing a picture of a noose hanging from a tree, which read 'not long now, my flower'," - one example of the evidence from one of the most harrowing parliamentary events I've ever reported.

This was a victim of stalking describing her experiences to the all party parliamentary group on Stalking, which intends to draft new, tighter, laws to combat those who set out to make the lives of others unbearable.

The evidence was simply horrible to hear. Stalkers breaking into homes, intercepting mail, dogging the steps of their targets, bombarding them with e-mail, making escalating threats of murder and suicide, and employing actual violence.

The accounts from two stalking victims and from the parents of two women who had been murdered by their stalkers were dignified but harrowing, as they set out how difficult it was, in each case, to get the courts and the police to take the threat seriously - and how the stalker's rights always seemed to trump those of the stalked.

There was an interesting aside from Laura Richards, the criminal psychologist advising the group - she had talked to several parliamentarians about the issue and discovered several had had unpleasant experiences with stalkers.

Last Friday on BBC Radio 4's Today in Parliament, there was a short report on the evidence session held by the group last week. The all party Stalking group's Chair, Plaid Cymru's Elfyn Llywd, was tactful and sympathetic as the appalling tales piled one upon the other.

He has already extracted a pledge from David Cameron at Prime Minister's Questions to meet them when their proposals are complete and give them a sympathetic hearing.

If I've ever heard a hole in the law exposed in evidence in Parliament, this was it.