A Labour MP who was the target of a far-right murder plot has criticised a “stupid, stupid, stupid” ITV series dramatising the story.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Rosie Cooper accused the broadcaster of using her as a “marketing tool” over The Walk-In, starring Stephen Graham.
The drama focuses on informant Robbie Mullen, his handler at anti-fascism campaign group Hope Not Hate (Hnh), and how the organisation infiltrated banned far-right terror group National Action (NA) and prevented the planned attack on Ms Cooper in 2017.
Ms Cooper, currently MP for West Lancashire – although she is soon to stand down to take up a role with the NHS – told the Commons she was “appalled at ITV’s recent treatment of the threats to MPs”.
She said all the money generated from the TV series, which launched on 3 October, should be donated to the Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
“I have been used as a marketing tool by both Hope Not Hate and ITV,” Ms Cooper said. “What excuse is there for a press release that says, ‘Who is Rosie Cooper, and who wanted to murder her?’
“There is no defence to that. So, let’s test the public defence, the public interest defence, to their despicable behaviour and I call on Hope Not Hate and ITV to donate all money and profits generated from this TV series, both here and abroad, every single penny should go to the Jo Cox Foundation.
“We should not tolerate this kind of behaviour.”
Ms Cooper’s comments came after Alicia Kearns, Conservative chairwoman of the foreign affairs committee, raised a point of order about ensuring that “threats on the lives of our colleagues are not treated as entertainment”.
Jack Renshaw, now 27, from Skelmersdale, Lancashire, is currently serving a life sentence for preparing acts of terrorism, after admitting planning to kill Ms Cooper with a sword-like Gladius knife on the first day of a trial in 2018.
A spokesperson for ITV said the broadcaster was “very sympathetic to the horrific ordeal” Ms Cooper has been through, but pointed out that “this has never been the emphasis of our press and marketing” around The Walk-In.
“The series has never been described in this way in any ITV press release,” the spokesperson said. “From Hillsborough, Bloody Sunday, Appropriate Adult, Little Boy Blue, A Confession to The Lost Honour Of Christopher Jeffries, ITV has a long record of broadcasting factual dramas based on or representing real events.
“Like these, The Walk-In is an important story which we believe it is overwhelmingly in the public interest to broadcast. We always conduct the making of these series carefully and responsibly.”
Mr Mullen, a former member of NA, spent a prolonged time undercover as a mole for Hnh and passed information on to the police.
He is played by This Is England star Andrew Ellis in the series, while his handler Matthew Collins is played by Graham.
In response to Ms Cooper’s comments, a Hope Not Hate spokesperson said The Walk-In highlights “the very real danger of far-right extremism – especially for those in public life”.
In a statement, the spokesperson said. “We sympathise with Rosie Cooper for everything she has been through in recent years. No one should endure murder threats simply for doing their job.
“Clearly, we are disappointed to hear Rosie’s words in the chamber today. In 2017, several members of our organisation worked tirelessly and at tremendous sacrifice to themselves to foil the murder plot against Rosie Cooper.”
The spokesperson added: “We cannot change what has happened to Rosie Cooper, but we can continue to work to tackle far-right extremism”.