Arsonist of MP's constituency offices sentenced, Philip Stott and Thomas Coke-Smyth for the prosecution

Paul Harwood was sentenced today at the Crown Court at Harrow (sitting at Hendon Magistrates’ Court) for arson being reckless as to whether life was endangered.

The sentence was in respect of a serious fire started on the night of Christmas Eve 2023 at the constituency offices of the then-MP for Finchley and Justice Minister, Mike Freer.

The building in question had been owned by the Finchley Conservative Association since the 1950s, and had previously served as the constituency offices of Margaret Thatcher. Mr Freer stood down at the most recent election, quoting this attack as the ‘last straw’ in a series of incidents that had occurred to him and his staff.

Mr Harwood was sentenced to a total of 3 years and 9 months imprisonment for that fire, and for a further smaller fire started elsewhere in Finchley earlier that day. No-one was hurt in either incident but over £100,000 of damage was caused to the offices and surrounding premises, and Mr Freer’s staff were forced to relocate to Westminster for a number of months.

Philip Stott appeared for the prosecution at sentence. Thomas Coke-Smyth represented the prosecution when the defendant pleaded guilty earlier this year. 

Press: BBC.

Contact our experts for further advice