A Tory MP was stabbed to death on Friday by a suspected terrorist.
Sir David Amess was holding a constituency surgery when a knifeman ran into the church building and launched a frenzied attack. The 69-year-old politician was wounded at the minimum 12 times, dying at the scene.
Counter-terrorism police and MI5 were probing whether the speculate, who is a 25-year-old British Muslim of Somali descent, had links to extremists.
Horrified constituents waiting to see the veteran MP, who has campaigned to help refugees, watched in horror as the assailant leapt on him just after midday.
One woman ran out of the Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, frantically dialling 999 as she screamed: ‘Someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing.’
Sir David, Tory MP for Southend West, collapsed in a pool of blood as the knifeman stood over him, remaining there until police arrived five minutes later to disarm him. Paramedics battled to save his life, but he died just before 3pm.
A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago.
Sir David Amess was holding a constituency surgery when a knifeman ran into the church building and launched a frenzied attack. The 69-year-old politician was wounded at the minimum 12 times, dying at the scene
A much-loved MP and a proud father of five, Sir David gave away his daughter Alex, 31, in marriage just weeks ago
Witnesses who saw the speculate being arrested on suspicion of murder described him as oddly calm and compliant.
Last night police were seeking to establish a motive for the attack, but announced the counter-terrorism command would rule the investigation.
The shocking attack, which came five years after the murder of MP Jo Cox, ignited a row over the protection of parliamentarians.
Home Secretary Priti Patel responded by ordering an immediate review of security arrangements. Yesterday the family of Mrs Cox, who was shot and stabbed outside her constituency surgery in Birstall, West Yorkshire, by a Right-wing terrorist in June 2016, said Sir David’s murder was an ‘attack on democracy itself’.
Mrs Cox’s husband Brendan said: ‘Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.’
Mrs Cox’s sister Kim Leadbeater, who has replaced her as the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, said her partner had asked her to step down from politics.
She said: ‘Totally shocked by what has happened to think that something so horrific could happen again to another MP, to another family. And scared and frightened – a real rollercoaster of emotions.
‘I find myself now working as a politician and trying to do good things for people and it’s really important you get good people in public life, but this is the risk we are all taking and so many MPs will be scared by this.
Judith McMahon, a close family friend of MP David Amess, mourns at a church after Amess was stabbed during constituency surgery, in Leigh-on-Sea
Police at Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir Amess died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery
‘My partner came home and he said he didn’t want me to do it any more because the next time that phone goes, it could be a different conversation.’
Sir David is the sixth MP to be murdered since the Second World War, and the ninth in history.
It is not known whether his wife Julia, who is his part-time caseworker, was in the church at the time. The MP, who was an ardent Brexiteer, was seen laughing and speaking to people on the steps of the church just 15 minutes before he was killed.
Sir David wrote last year about the importance of meeting constituents despite what had happened to Mrs Cox.
He wrote: ‘She was a young woman with a family going about her duties, as we all do, completely unaware of the threat that she faced. While it is often said that good can come out of someone’s death, it is difficult to see what good can come from this senseless murder’.
He also admitted he had been threatened at his home: ‘I myself have over the years experienced nuisance from the strange member of the general public at my own character. We regularly check our locks and many others have CCTV cameras installed but probably the most meaningful change has been with constituency surgeries.’
Police officers attend following the stabbing of MP Sir Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery
Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said MPs were in shock at what he described as an attack on democracy. He said he wanted to see a greater police presence at constituency surgeries. But he said it was vital that voters were able to include directly with MPs.
Sir Lindsay said he had gone ahead with his own surgery meeting last night, adding: ‘We cannot provide for democracy to be smashed. The people who do not accept our values will not win. I am shocked and deeply distressed by the killing of Sir David Amess. David was a lovely man, concentrated on his family, to parliament and his Southend West constituency.
‘He was well liked by members and the staff alike, and during his almost four decades here, built a reputation for kindness and generosity. We will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken.’
Yesterday the chief Minister paid tribute as there was an outpouring of grief from other MPs.
Boris Johnson said: ‘He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.’
At a vigil last night more than 100 people packed into St Peter’s Catholic Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Rev Clifford Newman, the vicar at the Methodist church where the murder took place, said: ‘My thoughts and prayers are with David and Julia, his wife, and the family and the many people he has helped in the past.
‘The local Baptist minister told me that he’s helped refugees.’
First elected in Thatcher’s 1983 landslide, Sir David was one of the longest-serving Tory MPs.
He never made it: MP’s assailant queued to see him… then launched his savage attack
By Sam Greenhill, Arthur Martin, Mario Ledwith and Neil Sears for the Daily Mail
It was as sudden as it was savage. A man pulled out a knife and ‘just began stabbing’ David Amess.
The ferocious attack left the 69-year-old veteran Conservative MP gasping for life on the floor of the church hall.
He was so grievously injured by ‘more than a dozen’ stab wounds that medical staff battling to save him could not stabilise him enough to take him to hospital. After two desperate hours, a helicopter air ambulance which had landed in a nearby field took off again, empty.
Sir David was a committed constituency MP who had devoted his life to meeting local residents and trying to help with their problems.
When he arrived for his regular surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, shortly before midday, several were waiting to see him. John Lamb, a Conservative councillor who rushed to the church when he heard what had happened, said: ‘He was doing a surgery in the Methodist church here to speak to local people and pick up on their problems.
The 69-year-old veteran Conservative MP was so grievously injured by ‘more than a dozen’ stab wounds that medical staff battling to save him could not stabilise him enough to take him to hospital
‘I’m told that when he went in for his surgery there were people waiting to see him, and one of them literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him. He was with a female member of staff from his constituency office and another female member of staff from his parliamentary office.’
Speaking outside the church, the shocked councillor said: ‘It has been two hours since it happened, and they are nevertheless working on him – he hasn’t been taken to hospital however.
‘He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son.’
Another observe said the MP had been ‘stabbed quite a few times’, while Sky News reported there were ‘more than a dozen’ knife wounds. The brutal assault on Sir David was over in seconds, but the knifeman does not appear to have been in a hurry to leave the murder scene.
Terrified members of the public dialled 999. Lee Jordison, 40, who works in nearby Hicks butchers, said: ‘It is very shocking. I’ve worked up here and lived up here all my life, and never seen anything like this – it’s terrible.’
member of the Southend West Conservative Association lowers the Union Jack Flag to half mast outside Iveagh Hall, the Constituency office address, following the stabbing
A member of the public leaves a bunch of flowers at a police cordon near the scene of a fatal stabbing incident at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, a district of Southend-on-Sea, in south-east England
Officers from Essex Police were the first to arrive, within five minutes, followed moments later by an armed response unit. They found the 25-year-old speculate nevertheless inside the church hall, and also recovered a knife. The alleged killer was led out to a police van.
Anthony Finch, 38, an electrician, said: ‘We arrived to do some work on the nearby building. I saw an upset lady on the phone saying “You need to arrive quickly – he’s nevertheless in the building”.
‘I went into the client’s house, and when I came back out there were loads of armed police, and overhead there was an air ambulance in addition as a police helicopter. I saw the speculate get put into a police van, get taken away and then they cordoned the whole road, and pushed us all down the road.
‘What we then heard was that it was David Amess. He’s very well thought of in our area – he fights for good causes and sticks up for people around here.’
As information spread, a Roman Catholic priest, Father Jeffrey Woolnough, arrived at the police cordon stretching across tree-lined Eastwood Road North, offering to administer the last rites to the devoutly Catholic MP. He said: ‘The officers said that because it was a crime scene, and also the character of the scene, it just wasn’t possible.’
Flowers at the scene alongside a observe reading ‘RIP. Such a gentleman xxx’ near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
Conservative councillor David Garston described Sir David as ‘probably one of the best constituency MPs in the country’, and said: ‘Because he was so easy to reach, and because he was everywhere, he clearly left himself unprotected and didn’t think twice about it.
‘You couldn’t get very far [with him] because he’d stop every hundred yards to talk to somebody.’ Another local councillor, James Courtenay, said that surgeries were the MP’s passion and a scheduled hour-long session with constituents often stretched to four or five hours.
Sir David was meant to have been giving a speech at a dinner for the local Conservative association last night in nearby Rochford. Instead, floral tributes were being laid and more than 100 locals attended a vigil. One card left on flowers at the scene read simply: ‘Sir David Amess – RIP –such a gentleman.’
Ben-Julian Harrington, Essex Police’s chief constable, said that officers and paramedics had ‘worked extremely hard to save Sir David’.
Click: See details