Shipley MP Philip Davies has slammed as “despicable” death threats received by frontline staff who decide if people claiming sick benefits are actually fit to work.

He claimed there was no justification for threatening the workers at Atos, the company charged with carrying out the work capability assessments.

The contract with Atos was due to run until 2015 but bosses say they want out given the threats their staff are receiving. Speaking in the Commons, Mr Davies said: “Would the minister agree with me that whatever the problems Atos and the problem of the contract agreed by the last Labour government, there is never any justification for violence or threats of violence against frontline staff whether they are nurses, doctors, teachers or, in this case, Atos staff.”

Atos Healthcare has been accused of making unfair decisions and last summer a government report found its assessors were of “unacceptably poor quality”.