An arsonist has admitted setting fire to a shed belonging to Finchley and Golders Green MP Mike Freer - but denied that it was politically motivated.

The shed at the Conservative MP's constituency office in Ballards Lane, north Finchley, was set on fire on Christmas Eve.

Paul Harwood, 42, who lives in the same road, was charged with arson of the shed as well as another arson attack on a bin at the back of a property on Long Lane on the same night.

He appeared at the Old Bailey via video link on Tuesday and pleaded guilty to two charges of arson.

The charge relating to the MP stated that on December 24 2023 he “damaged by fire to a shed…belonging to Mike Freer intending to damage such property or being reckless as to whether such property would be damaged and being reckless as to whether life to others would be endangered”.

The other charge stated that he without “lawful excuse…damaged by fire a bin belonging to another…intending to damage such property or being reckless as to whether property was damaged”.

Harwood’s barrister Tim Williams submitted that the offences were “not in any way politically motivated or targeted”.

A second defendant, Zara Kasory, 32, of Woodhouse Road, north Finchley, denied the same charges and faces trial at Harrow Crown Court on July 1.

Judge John Lodge set a further hearing for March 12 and remanded the defendants into custody.

Mr Freer, 63, was appointed Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Ministry of Justice on September 20, 2022.

He served as minister for exports and minister for equalities between September 2021 and July 6, 2022.

He was first elected as MP for Finchley and Golders Green in May 2010.