Police have been given six more days to question the man suspected of murdering Tory MP Sir David Amess in a terrorist attack amid reports he had previously been referred to the government’s counterterrorism scheme.
The 25-year-old is being detained for questioning at a London police station under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
He was arrested at the scene of the attack on the MP, who was fatally stabbed while meeting his constituents during a surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday.
Police are yet to confirm identity of the suspect, a British national of Somali heritage, but his name has been reported to be Ali Harbi Ali.
Home secretary Priti Patel, who visited the scene in Essex alongside prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer on Saturday, is drawing up protection plans for MPs which could include a regular police presence at weekly surgeries.
Police given more time to question suspect
Priti Patel draws up police protection plan for MPs
Priti Patel considering removing right to anonymity on social media
Neighbour describes murder suspect’s family as ‘cool, calm people’
Lisa Nandy admits she ‘no longer feels safe’ going about constituency
‘Please let some good come from this tragedy'
18:54 , Peter Stubley
The family of Sir David Amess praised the murdered MP as a ‘wonderful and inspiring man’ on Sunday as they issued a powerful plea: ‘Please let some good come from this tragedy’.
‘We are absolutely broken’ - family statement
18:40 , Peter Stubley
The family of Sir David Amess have said they are “absolutely broken” by his death in a statement released this evening.
It reads: “The family would like to thank everyone for the wonderful, wonderful tributes paid to David following his cruel and violent death. It truly has brought us so much comfort. The support shown by friends, constituents and the general public alike has been so overwhelming. As a family it has given us strength. We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew.
“We are enormously proud of him. Our hearts are shattered. However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days. So, this is not the end of Sir David Amess MP. It is the next chapter and as a family we ask everyone to support the many charities he worked with. There are so many to mention, so find one close to your hearts and help.
“David had recently joined a campaign to help raise funds for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn. To him she epitomised the strength and courage of our nation. We would ask as many people as possible to support this and meet the target to complete the project.
“Closer to home, David was working hard for Southend to gain city status. In his memory, please show your support for this campaign. Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
“Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand. As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way. Nobody. Please let some good come from this tragedy.
“We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man. We ask at this time that the family’s privacy be respected so that we can grieve in private.”
Sir David Amess: ‘A man of faith'
18:29 , Peter Stubley
Sir David Amess was remembered as “a man of honour, a man of compassion and a man of faith” at a church prayer service in Leigh-on-Sea.
Residents gathered at St Michael’s and All Angels church, opposite the late Southend West MP’s constituency office, to pay their respects and light a candle.
Local Conservative councillor John Lamb described Sir David’s death as a “big loss” and said the MP had worked tirelessly to solve people’s problems.
“Whatever your religion, whatever your creed, whatever your culture, he was there to sort it,” Mr Lamb said, his voice shaking with emotion.
A photo of Sir David was placed on a table next to a candle at the front of the church during the vigil.
Mark Churchward, who spoke on behalf of a network of Southend church leaders, described Sir David, a devout Catholic, as “a man of honour, a man of compassion and a man of faith”, who dealt with everyone respectfully.
Mural of Sir David Amess appears at local skate park
17:49 , Peter Stubley
This mural of Sir David Amess has appeared at Leigh-on-Sea skate park.
The skate park was officially opened by David Amess MP in 2008, and young people have enjoyed using it ever since.
It’s the work of a local artist named Madmanity who simply called it ‘Why?’. pic.twitter.com/InySEy9ckz
— Your Southend (@YourSouthend) October 17, 2021
Police continue to search address in Kentish Town
17:33 , Peter Stubley
Meanwhile police are still searching a house linked to the suspect in Kentish Town, northwest London.
One officer was seen leaving the address with several large bags. Several people in plain clothes could be seen carrying black cases from inside the house to a white van parked on the street.
In pictures: Prayer service for Sir David Amess
17:03 , Peter Stubley
Parishioners gathered for a special prayer service in memory of Sir David Amess at St Michael and All Angels church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
MPs to pay tribute to Sir David Amess tomorrow
16:38 , Peter Stubley
MPs will observe a minute’s silence at the House of Commons tomorrow, following the murder of Sir David Amess in a suspected terror attack.
Home Office questions will go ahead as planned at 2.30pm before the prime minister moves to adjourn to allow members to pay tribute to the Southend West MP.
The tributes are expected to last until 5.30pm. The speaker will then lead a procession to St Margaret’s Church for a service of prayer and remembrance at 6pm.
Before the start of business, The Venerable Tricia Hillas, the Speaker’s Chaplain, will lead specially crafted Chamber Prayers.
These will be followed by a minute’s silence. The Speaker will make a statement setting out arrangements for the day.
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) October 17, 2021
Home Office questions will take place as indicated on the Order Paper.
It is expected that after Home Office questions the Prime Minister will move a motion for the adjournment to enable Members to pay tribute to Sir David.
— UK House of Commons (@HouseofCommons) October 17, 2021
Granting Southend-on-Sea city status would be ‘wonderful tribute’ to MP, Priti Patel says
16:21 , Chiara Giordano
The home secretary has said granting Southend-on-Sea city status would be a “wonderful tribute” to Sir David Amess, who had long campaigned on the issue.
Describing the Conservative MP as “Mr Southend, Mr Essex” and “a wonderful advocate”, Priti Patel said there would be “work in government” on the prospect of realising his campaign.
My colleague Andy Gregory has the full story:
Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle says ‘quality of political discourse must change’ to end hate
15:56 , Chiara Giordano
The quality of political discourse in the UK “has to change” in the wake of the killing of Sir David Amess, the leader of the House of Commons has urged.
In a rare intervention, Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, wrote in a newspaper article that the “hate which drives these attacks has to end”.
My colleague Andy Gregory has more on this story:
Neighbours’ ‘shock’ as police search London flat in Sir David Amess murder probe
15:36 , Chiara Giordano
People living in the street where Sir David Amess’ suspected attacker is believed to live have told of their “complete shock”.
Our reporter Tom Batchelor has been at the scene in north London speaking to people in the area:
Muslim Council of Britain condemns killing ‘in strongest possible terms'
15:15 , Chiara Giordano
The Muslim Council of Britain has released a statement condemning the killing of Sir David Amess “in the strongest possible terms”.
Secretary-general Zara Mohammed said: “The perpetrators of this, and similar despicable crimes, should know that there is no justification for the taking of innocent life.
“The vitality of democracy rests on the accessibility of our elected representatives.
“Within the past five years, we have witnessed two members of Parliament killed in the course of performing their duties.
“Those whom we entrust with public office must be able to serve their communities without facing such grave threats to their safety, and so we welcome steps being taken to ensure better security for them.
“The killers of both Jo Cox MP and Sir David Amess MP are not only united in their total disregard for the sanctity of life, but their desire to sow division in society. We will not let them succeed.”
Government’ counterterrorism scheme needs urgent improvement, says Robert Buckland
14:43 , Chiara Giordano
The government's terror prevention scheme needs urgent improvement to make it more effective, a former cabinet minister has said.
The Prevent initiative is under review amid suggestions that the suspect in the Sir David Amess murder investigation had previously been referred to the programme.
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland said more co-operation between schools, the health service and other public agencies was required to ensure security forces can intervene early to prevent terror attacks.
Mr Buckland, who was sacked in Boris Johnson's September reshuffle, said he hoped the review being led by former Charity Commission chairman William Shawcross would "urgently" lead to a more "joined-up" approach.
Priest rushed to scene to offer MP last rites but couldn’t get through cordon
14:28 , Chiara Giordano
Father Jeffrey Woolnough, a Roman Catholic priest, tried to offer the last rites to Sir David Amess on Friday but said he was not allowed to enter the crime scene.
He rushed to Belfairs Methodist Church as soon as he heard the local MP, a devout Catholic, had been stabbed but police would not let him past the cordon.
"A Catholic when they're dying would want a priest there, and for reasons that only the police know, I was not allowed in," the local parish priest told PA news agency.
He found out about the attack on the news on Friday, which was his rest day, adding: "I got my clerics on, and got the holy oils, sort of expecting that I might be allowed on the crime scene to administer the oil of the sick.
"I didn't know at that time what kind of condition he was in... but it didn't sound great, so it was a just-in-case matter.
"When I got there, I showed card to the police and I asked 'if there was any chance that I can get in?' And in fairness the policeman there radioed through and said: 'I'm afraid not, this is a crime scene'."
Police put up forensics tent in front garden of property
13:56 , Chiara Giordano
A yellow police forensics gazebo has been erected in the front garden of a property where officers have been carrying out searches in northwest London since Friday evening.
Officers have also installed blue panels around the sides of the tent to prevent members of the public being able to see inside.
Lisa Nandy admits she ‘no longer feels safe’ going about constituency
14:47 , Chiara Giordano
Lisa Nandy has admitted she does not feel safe going about her constituency.
The shadow foreign secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show Sir David Amess' murder was "heart breaking", adding: "It does make you very anxious but none of us are going to stop doing our job as a consequence."
Asked whether she felt safe doing her job in her constituency, the Labour MP for Wigan replied: "No, not really if I'm honest. I feel quite fortunate to have a lot constituents who are concerned about my safety.
"But this isn't the first time this has happened."
Mark Francois MP pays tribute to 'oldest and best friend in politics’
13:41 , Chiara Giordano
Rayleigh and Wickford MP Mark Francois described his Conservative colleague Sir David Amess as his "oldest and best friend in politics" as he laid flowers outside the Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea.
Mr Francois was visibly emotional as he paid tribute to Sir David, standing sombrely for a few moments in front of the floral tributes displayed outside the church where the Southend West MP was stabbed to death on Friday.
"He was the best bloke I ever knew," Mr Francois said tearfully, adding that he would say more about his friend at the House of Commons tribute this week.
Speaker calls for politics to be kinder in wake of Sir David Amess’ death
13:05 , Chiara Giordano
The Speaker of the House of Commons has called for politics to be kinder after the death of his colleague and friend Sir David Amess.
In an article for the Observer and Mail on Sunday, Sir Lindsay Hoyle said he did not want to see an end to face-to-face meetings with constituents and urged the “hate” in politics to stop.
“If anything positive is to come out of this awful latest tragedy it is that the quality of political discourse has to change,” he said. “The conversation has to be kinder and based on respect.
“The hate, which drives these attacks, has to end.”
Security forces watching for people who may have become radicalised during lockdown, says Priti Patel
12:50 , Chiara Giordano
Security forces have been watching for people who may have become radicalised online during the coronavirus lockdowns and could pose the threat of a “lone-wolf” attack, Priti Patel has said.
The home secretary told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "It is a really important point - the coronavirus pandemic, people being locked down at home, online etcetera.
"But to put this into perspective, we have the best security and intelligence agencies in the world.
"I know - I can't sit and share with you - how they have worked throughout the pandemic, I know the work they do in watching individuals, subjects of interest, tracking behaviours, monitoring anybody of interest.
"Threats are always there and if you listen to my colleagues, even the director general of MI5, he has spoken publicly about lone actors.
"We've seen a lot more of that, at both ends of the spectrum by the way - Islamist and extreme right."
Politicians need to take their security more seriously, says Wes Streeting
12:35 , Chiara Giordano
Wes Streeting, the Labour MP for Ilford North, said politicians need to take their security more seriously in the wake of Sir David Amess's murder.
He said: "The uncomfortable truth that lots of us are wrestling with is that if someone wants to attack you in this way, they will do it and there is a risk that comes with this job.
"MPs are having really difficult conversations with their families this weekend about the risk that we carry, about whether it's worth it, and what we might do to make sure that we're keeping ourselves, our staff and our families safe."
Speaking to the PA news agency outside the Belfairs Methodist church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Sir David was stabbed to death on Friday, Mr Streeting said that while he had experienced "plenty of abuse," the vast majority of his interactions with the public were "wholly positive".
Family living in property at centre of police search are ‘very nice’, says neighbour
12:20 , Chiara Giordano
A neighbour who lives in the same street as a property police are searching in north London said the family that lived there was “very nice”.
She told the PA news agency: "We knew the family quite well as superficial neighbours. Very nice family, the mum was very, very nice.
"They'd say hello in the street, that kind of thing.
"A mother lives there with several boys, my husband believes there's three boys. The youngest has got to be in his 20s. I never saw a father there.
"They've been here for years, we've lived here for 20 years and they've been here longer than us."
Director of Council of Somali Organisations says suspect’s family was ‘well educated'
12:05 , Chiara Giordano
Our reporter Tom Batchelor has been speaking to Kahiye Alim, the director of the Council of Somali Organisations.
Mr Alim called for the family of the 25-year-old suspect, a British national of Somali heritage, to be left alone.
He told The Independent: “It is my understanding that it was a well educated family.
“The father held a role of political importance in Somalia, and he was very active on social media posting about Somali politics.
“It is quite normal for the diaspora to move back and forth between the UK and Somalia, the father had held a media communication director role for the prime minister but there was an election in 2016 and a new government in 2017.
“Right now it is time for the family to be left alone.”
MPs’ frustration over police support for their security bursts into open
11:50 , Chiara Giordano
MPs’ frustration with police responses to fears over their safety burst into the open today following the murder of Sir David Amess.
Labour frontbencher Lisa Nandy said there was “a huge disparity” between the support offered by forces in different parts of the country, and Tory backbencher Andrew Rosindell said his own pleas for assistance were repeatedly ignored.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full story:
Neighbours in street where suspect lived ‘in complete shock'
11:37 , Chiara Giordano
Another resident in the street where the murder suspect lives said they were “in complete shock”.
They told our reporter Tom Batchelor: “I’m in complete shock, there was no sense of anything dodgy there.
“I never would have expected something like that to happen.
“It’s a nice street, it always feels very safe. I’m just in shock.”
Curtains remain shut at suspect’s home as police stand guard outside
11:10 , Chiara Giordano
The 25-year-old man being held on suspicion of murder following the death of Sir David Amess is said to have lived with his family on the top two floors of a three-storey house in a sought after road in the north London borough of Camden.
Our report Tom Batchelor, who is at the scene speaking to neighbours, said the blinds and curtains of the property were all closed this morning, with no sign of forensics or police removing items from the house.
Two police are standing guard in the front garden, while two more uniformed officers have just entered from a parked van.
He said there was generally a very low-key police presence outside the property today.
Neighbour describes murder suspect’s family as ‘cool, calm people’
10:56 , Chiara Giordano
Our reporter Tom Batchelor has been speaking to neighbours near the suspect’s home in north London.
One neighbour, who lives in the same street, told him the family were “nice, cool, calm people”.
The 31-year-old, who did not want to be named, said: “The family were always very polite, very kind, I knew a guy who I thought was around 28 or 29, he was lovely.
“He had older brothers, I think there were four brothers in all, and the mum and dad. I thought the dad was living in Somalia.”
The man, who grew up in the area and moved back a year ago, added: “It has come as a complete shock to me. They were quite quiet but were nice, cool, calm people.
“They would always ask about my family. We never had any problems with the brothers. It’s just come as a shock to everyone in my family.
“There were no weird comings or goings, they spent a lot of time indoors but everyone did during lockdown.”
Priti Patel says she wants to ensure MPs continue to be ‘accessible’ to public
10:33 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel said she wanted to ensure MPs could be "accessible" to the public but added there were changes that could be made around constituency surgeries.
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: "There are ways in which we can do things differently, clearly around surgeries.
"You've just mentioned publicising them, moving from publicising appointments to pre-booking appointments, making sure that appointments are checked thoroughly, that backgrounds on individuals are checked."
Asked whether MPs should be given police protection at surgeries, Ms Patel replied: "There are protective measures available to Members of Parliament.
"Many of these measures came together post-Jo Cox's murder. This isn't just about saying, let's go for option A, let's have bodyguards or security - there is a panoply of measures and we have to be proportionate in terms of the risk individuals are subject to.”
Reports of abuse to police by politicians not always followed up, MP claims
10:05 , Chiara Giordano
Reports of abuse reported to the police by politicians are not always followed up, an MP has claimed.
Asked if he has had to take extra safety precautions, Conservative MP for Romford, Andrew Rosindell, told Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme: "Yes, I'm afraid. I've been an MP 20 years, and during that period I see a lot of more nasty people around than ever before, and they are willing to say and do things in a way that I would never have thought possible in this country. And we all have to be really aware and keep our wits about us.
"The abuse we get on social media, by emails, I mean we get it all the time. But we brush it off because we've got a job to do. And we tell the police, the police have got other things to do, it's not always followed up.
"I've had my office was arsoned, my car was smashed up, someone tried to get into my house and injure me - managed to stop them.
"All these things have happened over the years, but you take it in your stride because our priority is to get on with our job, and we do tend to not think much about our own security, I'm afraid. But I'm thinking now maybe we should do a bit more."
David Amess’s family ‘can’t believe’ his murder as locals remember ‘an MP with a heart’
09:50 , Chiara Giordano
Our reporter Holly Bancroft has been in Southend speaking to locals since the attack on Sir David Amess on Friday.
A local campaigner remembered him as “an MP with a heart”, while two of his cousins left a message saying they “can’t believe this has actually happened” as they laid flowers outside the church where he was stabbed.
Lisa Nandy ‘not sure’ threat to MPs could ever be eliminated
09:33 , Chiara Giordano
Labour's shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy said she was not sure the threat to MPs could ever be eliminated.
The senior Opposition figure, asked on Sky News' Trevor Phillips On Sunday programme what needed to happen to make her feel fully confident when going about her constituency business, said: "I'm not sure we can ever get to that point, if I'm honest.”
She added: "We've had Stephen Timms, one of my colleagues who was stabbed a few years ago, we had the case of the Lib Dem MP before that whose case worker was killed, we've had a plot to kill Rosie Cooper, my neighbouring MP, and of course what happened to Jo and now David.
"I'm not sure that that moment is recoverable. I say that with sadness but I think there is an element of realism about that.
"MPs are well known in our constituencies, people tend to know where we live, we are out and about, we're normal human beings, we go out and about on the weekends and go to the local shops.
"I'm not sure that we can ever eliminate the risk but there are other things that can be done to reduce the risk: I think the suggestion from the Speaker about ensuring that anyone who wants or needs security at surgeries is a good idea, not least because people often know, even if we don't advertise them, that they are happening so they can become a magnet for people who want to come and cause trouble."
Lisa Nandy says her fear is ‘this just keeps happening'
09:10 , Chiara Giordano
Shadow foreign secretary Lisa Nandy has said her “bigger fear is this just keeps happening”.
“We keep having this debate and then nothing very much changes,” she told Sky.
She added: “We’ve got to get away from this idea that it’s about whether you protect MPs or protect democracy.
“You have to protect MPs to go about their daily business and be free to speak on behalf of their constituents to protect democracy. We have to get the balance right.”
Priti Patel considering removing right to anonymity on social media
08:57 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel has said she could remove the right to anonymity on social media in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess, to stop the “cruel and relentless” abuse of MPs and others.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more on this:
Wrong to suggest those going through Prevent ‘automatically going down stream of radicalisation’, says Patel
08:56 , Chiara Giordano
Priti Patel has said it is “wrong” to automatically assert someone going through the government’s counterterrorism programme Prevent is “going down the stream of radicalisation”.
She told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme: “There are so many different component parts around prevent and channel programmes and it would be wrong for us to automatically assert that people that go through or have a referral to Prevent are automatically going down the stream of deradicalisation [sic].”
Asked whether she had any concerns the programme was failing in what it had been set up to do, she added: “I’m not going to make assumptions right now about the Prevent programme.”
Airport-style arches could be under consideration for MPs’ protection, Priti Patel suggests
08:46 , Chiara Giordano
Priti Patel has said extra protection for MPs such as police at constituency surgeries could be introduced to “safeguard our democracy”.
She told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme: “The Speaker has already put in a range of measures post Friday as we have with policing but there are other options that are being considered such as when you hold your surgeries could you have officers or some kind of protection.
“We will do absolutely everything. For me and the government this is about safeguarding our democracy.”
Asked whether things such as airport-style arches could be brought in, the home secretary said: “That would be with the police and House authorities. There are lots of things under consideration already.”
Attack ‘should never break link between MPs and constituents’, says Priti Patel
08:39 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel is speaking to Sky News’ Trevor Phillips.
She told him what happened to Sir David Amess “should never ever break that link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people that have elected them to be their representative.”
Priti Patel drawing up police protection plan for MPs
08:24 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel is busy drawing up extra protection plans for MPs, which could include a regular police presence at weekly surgeries like the one at which the MP for Southend West was stabbed to death on Friday.
Police forces contacted all 650 MPs following Sir David Amess’ death to offer reassurance and support, with some deploying officers to public events MPs were attending.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details:
Police given six more days to question murder suspect
08:12 , Chiara Giordano
Police have been given six more days to question the man suspected of murdering Sir David Amess in a terrorist attack amid reports he had previously been referred to the government’s counterterrorism scheme, Prevent.
The 25-year-old - a British national of Somali heritage - is being detained for questioning at a London police station under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.
Police have not yet confirmed the identity of the suspect, but he has been named in reports.
My colleague Peter Stubley has the full story:
08:06 , Chiara Giordano
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage as police continue to investigate the killing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess who died after being stabbed at a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, on Friday afternoon.
Officers have been given six more days to question a 25-year-old murder suspect, who is said to have been referred to the government’s counterterrorism scheme, Prevent.
Home secretary Priti Patel, meanwhile, is drawing up extra protection plans for MPs.