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The Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been seriously injured after being stabbed multiple times while holding a constituency surgery, his office and police have said. A man has been arrested.
The veteran MP, who has represented Southend West in Essex since 1997, and was MP for Basildon from 1983 to 1997, was attacked at Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Staff at Amess’s office said they did not know any further details and were awaiting updates.
In a statement, Essex police said a man had been arrested following an incident in Leigh-on-Sea.
They said: “We were called to reports of a stabbing in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, shortly after 12.05pm today. Officers were on scene shortly after, arrested a man and recovered a knife. He is currently in custody.
“We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the wider public. We want to thank the public who alerted us to the incident so quickly.”
A man was reported to have walked into the constituency surgery and stabbed the MP a number of times. Paramedics treated Amess at the scene for a considerable time. An air ambulance later took off from the scene, but it was not known whether he was on board.
“He was stabbed several times,” John Lamb, a local councillor who was at the scene, told Reuters. “We’re not sure how serious it is but it’s not looking good.”
The Guardian understands that counter-terrorism police are assisting the investigation into the stabbing, which continues to be led by Essex police.
Senior counter-terrorism officials are monitoring the situation closely and are being updated on emerging details of the attack and the suspect. Counter-terrorism police usually will stay involved in such an investigation until a non-terrorist motive is identified.
The incident will raise further concerns about the safety of MPs, who routinely hold advice surgeries at which anyone can turn up. In 2016, the Labour MP Jo Cox was stabbed and shot dead by a far-right terrorist shortly before holding a surgery.
Brendan Cox, the MP’s widower, tweeted: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
In 2010, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, was stabbed twice at a constituency surgery by a student radicalised by online videos. In 2000, Andrew Pennington, an assistant to the Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones, was stabbed to death as he tried to protect Jones from an attacker who stormed his constituency office armed with a sword.
Timms was among MPs to express horror and sympathy following the attack on Amess, saying he was “appalled” to hear of the attack. The Labour leader, Keir Starmer, tweeted: “Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff.” A number of Tory MPs and ministers also expressed their concern.
Amess, 69, is a well-known backbencher who has never held a ministerial or shadow ministerial post during his 38 years in parliament, instead campaigning on issues including animal rights. He first became an MP in 1983, representing Basildon. He is married with five children.