The father of a man killed in the London Bridge terror attack has shared posts calling Boris Johnson’s response to the murders “beyond disgusting”.
David Merritt, whose son Jack was one of two people killed by convicted terrorist Usman Khan on Friday, condemned the prime minister and Priti Patel, the home secretary, for using the attack as justification for a series of tougher criminal policies.
Mr Merritt suggested the Tories were using his son’s death to promote “vile propaganda” and shared a tweet accusing Mr Johnson of trying to “make political gain from people’s death in a terror incident”.
Cambridge University graduate Jack Merritt, 25, worked for the Learning Together programme, which uses education to try to rehabilitate prisoners into the community.
Following the attack, the Conservatives vowed to toughen terror sentences and stop criminals entering the UK from the EU. They also launched a crackdown on people convicted of terrorism offences who had been released early.
That prompted Mr Merritt to share a tweet by left-wing journalist and academic Ash Sarkar which said: “It’s beyond disgusting that Boris Johnson, Priti Patel and newspapers like the Mail are using Jack Merritt’s death and image to promote an agenda he fought against all his life. He was a passionate believer in rehabilitation and transformative justice, not draconian sentencing.”
He then retweeted a second post by Ms Sarkar which said: “Jack Merritt’s family and loved ones have asked that rightwing newspapers and political parties not use his murder to advance reactionary demands. If you see it happening, call it out. They deserve so much better.”
Mr Merritt also posted two front-page articles about the Conservatives’ crackdown on released terror offenders, writing: “Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos – to promote your vile propaganda. Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance.”
And he shared a tweet by broadcaster Kay Burley that said ”Labour and Tory leaders are using London Bridge attack as a campaigning tool ... shame on them” and another from a Twitter user that claimed the BBC, which had granted the prime minister a lengthy interview on Sunday, was “facilitating Johnson to make political gain from people’s death in a terror incident”.
Within hours of the attack, in which Khan also killed 23-year-old Saskia Jones, Mr Merritt posted on Twitter to say that his son “would not wish his death to be used as the pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily”.
Khan was shot dead by armed police after stabbing five people on London Bridge. He had been attending an event at Fishmongers’ Hall on the rehabilitation of prisoners.
He was jailed in 2012 for his involvement in a plot to blow up the London Stock Exchange and sentenced to 16 years in prison.
However, he was automatically released in 2018. That decision has been the subject of a row between Labour and the Conservatives, with each party blaming policies introduced by the other when in government.
Khan was involved with Learning Together and was used by the programme as a case study of a positive outcome. He is reported to have been supported in his rehabilitation by Jack Merritt – the man he would go on to murder.