London Bridge attack: Urgent review underway into terrorists released from jail

  • Urgent review launched into terrorists released from prison

  • Boris Johnson pledges biggest review of Britain’s security, defence, and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War

  • Father of victim Jack Merritt pays tribute to ‘inspirational’ son

  • Usman Khan was given permission to go to London for prisoner rehabilitation conference

  • Polish chef who fought Khan with narwhal tusk is recovering in hospital

  • Second victim identified as another former Cambridge University students

Downing Street is urgently reviewing the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison following the London Bridge attack on Friday.

The review, which is looking into 74 people, comes after it emerged that convicted terrorist Usman Khan - who killed two people before being shot dead by armed police - had been freed halfway through a 16-year prison sentence.

Boris Johnson has voiced his anger over Khan’s early release and pledged a major review of security, defence and foreign policy if he wins the general election.

Undated handout photo issued by West Midlands Police of Usman Khan, 20, one of nine members of an al Qaida-inspired terror group that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and build a terrorist training camp, who has been jailed for a minimum term of eight years. He has been named as the perpetrator of an attack on London Bridge on Friday.
Convicted terrorist Usman Khan was given permission to travel to London (Picture: PA)

But tributes to victim Jack Merritt have pointed out that the 25-year-old Cambridge University graduate believed in prisoner rehabilitation and not necessarily tougher sentences.

Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said there are “probably about 74” other people subject to early release after terror offences and those cases were now being “properly invigilated”.


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He said: “What we’re doing there is we’ve taken a lot of action as you can imagine in the last 48 hours. I don’t want to go into the operation details.

“I’m sure people can imagine what we’re doing to ensure that 74 other individuals who’ve been let out early on the basis of this Labour change in legislation, they are being properly invigilated to make sure there is no threat.”

Knifeman Khan was given permission to travel to London

Usman Khan, 28, was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he attended a conference on prisoner rehabilitation hosted by Cambridge University scheme Learning Together at Fishmongers’ Hall near London Bridge.

The convicted terrorist, who was living in Stafford, was given permission to travel into the heart of London by police and the probation service. He had also been allowed to travel to Whitehall earlier in the year.

Neil Basu, UK head of counter-terrorism policing, said he believed Khan had complied with an “extensive list of licence conditions” following his early release.

In a handwritten note from 2012, Khan asked for a place on a deradicalisation course and claimed he was trying to be a "good Muslim and British citizen".

London Bridge terror attack. See story POLICE LondonBridge. Infographic by PA Graphics
London Bridge terror attack. See story POLICE LondonBridge. Infographic by PA Graphics

Khan was convicted of being part of an al Qaeda-inspired terror group, linked to radical preacher Anjem Choudary, that plotted to bomb the London Stock Exchange and build a terrorist training camp.

In February 2012 he was handed an indeterminate sentence for public protection, meaning he could have been kept in prison for as long he was deemed to be a threat to the public, but that sentence was changed to a determinate 16-year jail term by the Court of Appeal in April 2013.

That meant he was released automatically halfway through the sentence.

Johnson voices anger over early release

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 30: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel, (L) and City of London commissioner Ian Dyson (R) visit the scene of yesterday's London Bridge stabbing attack on November 30, 2019 in London, England. A man and a woman were killed and three seriously injured in a stabbing attack at London Bridge during which the suspect was shot dead by Police officers after members of the public restrained him. The Metropolitan Police have named the suspect as 28-year-old Usman Khan.(Photo by Simon Dawson - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Boris Johnson, who visited the scene of the London Bridge stabbing attack on Saturday, has voiced his anger over the early release of Usman Khan (Picture: WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Boris Johnson has claimed that scrapping early release would have prevented Usman Khan’s attack.

The Prime Minister said: “What I have seen over the last 24 hours has made me angry – it’s absolutely clear that we can’t carry on with the failed approaches of the past.

“If you are convicted of a serious terrorist offence, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years – and some should never be released.

“Further, for all terrorism and extremist offences the sentence announced by the judge must be the time actually served – these criminals must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions.

“These simple changes, in line with what I’ve been saying since becoming Prime Minister, would have prevented this attack.”

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks to the media at the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge, in which two people were killed, in London, Britain, November 30, 2019. REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool
Boris Johnson has pledged the biggest review of Britain's security, defence and foreign policy since the Cold War if he wins the General Election (Picture: REUTERS/Simon Dawson/Pool)

Speaking on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Mr Johnson said: “I think it is ridiculous, I think it is repulsive, that individuals as dangerous as this man should be allowed out after serving only eight years and that’s why we are going to change the law.”

Insisting that the issue was early release, he said: “I think it’s wrong for serious sexual offenders, I think it’s wrong for violent offenders, I think it’s wrong for terrorists.”

Mr Johnson has also promised the biggest review of Britain’s security, defence, and foreign policy since the end of the Cold War if he wins the general election.

He said: “Unlike normal defence reviews, this review will extend from the armed forces to the intelligence services, counter-terrorism forces, and serious organised crime.

“It will also consider global Britain’s foreign policy: British alliances and diplomacy, shifts of power and wealth to Asia, how we can best use our huge expenditure on international development, and the role of technology.

“We must use money better, undertake a huge technological upgrade of all our security forces so they are ahead of hostile powers, terrorists, and organised crime – and unlike previous exercises, we must develop an integrated plan for all forces engaged in security.”

Politicians back actions of armed police

Both Mr Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn have backed the actions of armed police who shot Usman Khan dead on London Bridge.

Mr Johnson has rejected any criticism of the officers, saying: “The police had very good reasons to think the attacker presented a real and deadly threat.

“They had to make split second decisions. I know the overwhelming majority of the country will join me in giving them our absolute support.”

The City of London is locked down on Upper thames Street by Metropolitan and City Police following what is believed to have been a terror-related incident on London Bridge at around 2pm on 29th November 2019 in London, United Kingdom. Police officers cordoned off the bridge, underpass and all surrounding roads following the incident during which members of the public intervened before shots were fired by armed police. The incident is said to have started as a stabbing during which a number of people were stabbed in a building near London Bridge. (photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)
Politicians have rejected criticism of the actions of armed police, who shot dead Usman Khan after he killed two people on London Bridge (Picture: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images)

In a speech on Sunday, Mr Corbyn was also set to back police, saying: “I will always do whatever is necessary and effective to keep our people safe.

“First of all, the police who put themselves on the line to protect us will have the authority to use whatever force is necessary to protect and save life.

“If police believe an attacker is wearing a suicide vest and innocent lives are at risk, then it is right they are able to use lethal force.”

Tributes pour in to ‘beautiful spirit’ Jack Merritt

On Saturday one of Khan’s victims was named as Cambridge University graduate Jack Merritt.

The 25-year-old was the course coordinator of the Cambridge University Learning Together prison rehabilitation programme.

Writing on Twitter, his father paid tribute to his “inspirational” son, saying he was a “beautiful spirit” who “lived his beliefs”.

He said: “My son, Jack, who was killed in this attack, would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily.

“R.I.P Jack: you were a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog.”

Tributes have poured in for Jack Merritt, who was killed in the London Bridge attack (Picture: Facebook)
Tributes have poured in for Jack Merritt, who was killed in the London Bridge attack (Picture: Facebook)

Mr Merritt said he had been overwhelmed by the messages of condolence and appreciation.

“Your kind words mean so much to us,” he said. “Jack lived his beliefs. He held me to a high standard; he would have expected me to say this, and would have pulled me up had I not!

“He was an exceptional young man, and I’m only finding out the half of it now he’s gone.”

“I don’t feel inspirational, but Jack was,” he added.

Tribute to Jack Merritt
Tribute to Jack Merritt

Thousands of people have posted tributes to Jack online, including Mercury Prize-winning rapper Dave, who wrote: “Rest in peace brother. One of the most painful things. Jack Merritt was the best guy.

“Dedicated his life to helping others, was genuinely an honour to have met someone like you and everything you’ve done for us. I’ll never ever forget.”

Praise for members of the public who fought Khan

Footage has continued to emerge of brave members of the public who tackled Khan before he was shot dead by armed police.

They include a Polish chef called Lukasz who grabbed a five-foot narwhal tusk from the wall of Fishmongers’ Hall to fight off Khan.

He is said to be recovering in hospital after suffering cuts.

One of his colleagues told The Times: “Lukasz grabbed a nearby pole and ran at him, getting stabbed in the hand in the process but continued to pin him down.

“Being stabbed didn't stop him giving him a beating. Lukasz is a hero.”

One video shows Lukasz lunging at Khan with the tusk as another member of the public sprays the terrorist with a fire extinguisher.

Another person who tried to stop Khan is reportedly a convicted murderer who was on day release, while a plain-clothed British Transport Police officer also ran towards the scene to tackle the knifeman.

Tour guide Thomas Gray has also described how he helped try to disarm Khan.

The Queen has praised the actions of the public as well as paying tribute to the victims.