British MP killing was terrorist incident – police

TPL | Published: 9:23 AM Oct 16 2021
World British MP killing was terrorist incident – police

The killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident by police.

Sir David was stabbed multiple times at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on Friday.

The Metropolitan Police said there was "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism".

A 25-year-old British man was arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder, and police said they were not seeking anyone else over the death.

As part of the investigation, officers are carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.

The force believes the man acted alone but inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are continuing.

The man is in custody in Essex, police added.

Government sources have told the BBC he is a British national who, from initial inquiries, appears to be of Somali heritage.

Sir David, 69, who represented Southend West, was holding a constituency surgery - where voters can meet their MP and discuss concerns - at Belfairs Methodist Church on Friday when he was attacked at 12:05 BST.

Essex Police chief constable BJ Harrington said Sir David was "simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short".

The Met said its counter-terrorism officers were working with colleagues from Essex Police and the Eastern Region Specialist Operations Unit (ERSOU).

"The fatal stabbing in Leigh-on-Sea has tonight been declared as a terrorist incident, with the investigation being led by Counter Terrorism Policing," the force said.

"The early investigation has revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism."

Officers are appealing for anyone with any information about the incident, or those who have footage from CCTV, dash cams or video doorbell, to contact them.

'Senseless attack'

Meanwhile, Home Secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs "with immediate effect".

Ms Patel said the killing "represents a senseless attack on democracy itself", adding that "questions are rightly being asked about the safety of our country's elected representatives".

Sir David had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children. He is the second serving MP to be killed in the past five years, following the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson described him as "one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics".

House of Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle told BBC2's Newsnight that police were contacting all MPs to check on their security and reassure them following the killing of Sir David.

He said he had gone ahead with his own constituency surgery as normal on Friday evening, and said it was essential that MPs were able to retain their relationship with their constituents.

"We have got to make sure that democracy survives this," he said.

But Conservative MP Tobias Elwood told BBC Radio 4's World Tonight programme he would recommend that no MP should have face-to-face meetings with constituents following the stabbing of Sir David.

"You can move to Zoom... you can actually achieve an awful lot over the telephone," he said.

And Kim Leadbeater, the sister of Ms Cox and MP for Batley and Spen, said her partner had asked her to stand down from her role following Sir David's death.

Tributes have been paid to Sir David from across politics and within his local community.

PM Boris Johnson said he had an "outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable", adding "we've lost today a fine public servant and a much loved-friend and colleague".

Father Jeff Woolnough, parish priest at nearby St Peter's Catholic Church, described Sir David as "a great, great man, a good catholic and a friend to all".

"He's died doing that, that's the remarkable thing. He's died serving the people," he said.

He led a mass at the church on Friday evening in memory of Sir David, describing him as "Mr Southend".

Southend councillor John Lamb said Sir David was "a very good, hard working constituency MP who worked for everyone".

And Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said it was a "dark and shocking day", adding that the country had "been here before" with the death of Jo Cox.

(BBC)

TPL | Published: 9:23 AM Oct 16 2021

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