Tory councillor opens up over being targeted in ‘terrifying’ firebomb attack
A Scottish Tory councillor has told how his family home and cars were targeted in a terrifying firebomb attack.
Graeme Campbell, who represents Avondale and Stonehouse in Strathaven, Lanarkshire, said he believes he was targeted because of his work as a politician.
Cllr Campbell, 49, said he, his wife Fiona, and their 18-year-old son were asleep when their £45,000 BMW car went up in flames at 1.15am on Monday.
The family were woken when a passer-by knocked on their door to tell him their car was on fire after an explosion.
The blaze later spread to the house, destroying parts of their detached property as well as damaging a neighbour’s home.
The politician, who was elected to council in 2007 and then again in 2017, told how attackers had smashed a window in his wife’s car before dousing it in flammable liquid.
He said: “When I realised it was about 1.10am and heard some sort of bang and I can only assume it was the car on fire and something was exploding in the car.
“I then got up and said to Fiona that I thought there was somebody downstairs and then we heard banging on the front door.
“It was a young lad who was coming past on the road and saw the car on fire and they were coming to warn us that the car was on fire and it was getting near to the house.
“We don’t know who that guy was and we are desperately trying to find out who he is to thank him because if it had been another 10 or 15 minutes then we would have been dead.
“We were in the bedroom above the garage and that would have went up in flames with us above it.
“The Fire Brigade were here really quick and then as they doused the flames the police arrived.
“We did statements and then they told me it was deliberate. Someone has smashed the front left window of my wife’s car, put accelerant in and it has gone up.
“My car is a bit damaged, superficial damage only.”
Mr Campbell added: “The police said it was deliberate and I wasn’t really surprised.
“There was always a fear it could happen but I didn’t think anyone would attack a locally elected official.
“There is a small minority of criminal elements that want to cause mischief.”
Cllr Campbell has vowed to continue his work, he said: “I’m a bit stubborn and it has made me more determined and you don’t give into bullies.
“Whoever did this is trying to bully me and get me to shut up and back off from a particular case.
“But me and Fiona need to talk about that a little bit more but if I walk away then I leave other constituents in a living hell.
“The only reason I ever stood was to give something back to the community and I thought I had something to offer but it just beggars belief why anyone would do this.
“This will cost thousands to repair.”
Mrs Campbell added: “We have done nothing wrong and will be out of pocket.
“Our neighbours have done nothing wrong and their house has been damaged as well. It is shocking.”
Labour MSP Monica Lennon sent a message of support to the Campbells on social media.
She said: “This is a terrifying attack on Councillor Graeme Campbell’s home and family which could have been fatal.
“I hope Police Scotland find those responsible. If this crime is related to Cllr Campbell’s public duties this is an attack on democracy itself.”
Margaret Cooper, an independent councillor in Strathaven, posted: “My sincere thoughts are with Graeme, Fiona and their lovely son.
“Graeme is my colleague councillor in the ward and we often work closely in the interests of our constituents.
“It is unthinkable that someone would take such action putting the whole families life at risk. Like me Graeme works for our community with such enthusiasm and did not deserve this horrible attack on his privacy.”
A Police Scotland spokeswoman said: “At around 1.25am on Monday, police were called to a report of a car on fire outside a property in Fortrose Gardens, Strathaven.
“Emergency services attended and fire had caused extensive damage to the car, as well as another vehicle in the driveway and the garage.
“The incident is being treated as wilful and enquiries are ongoing.”
A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman added: “We sent two appliances after a car was found on fire outside the house. We left the scene at 3.15am.”
A South Lanarkshire Council spokesman said they would be working closely with the police in their inquiries