Veteran Tory MP Sir David Amess stabbed to death at community meeting in church

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Conservative MP Sir David Amess who has died after being stabbed at a meeting in his Essex constituency was one of the “kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”, Boris Johnson has said.

The 69-year-old, who has been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend at midday on Friday.

A 25-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering the Tory veteran who had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

Paying tribute to Sir David, the Prime Minister said Sir David been killed after “almost 40 years of continuous service to the people of Essex and the whole of the United Kingdom”.

He added: “The reason people are so shocked and sad is above all he was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics.

“He also had an outstanding record of passing laws to help the most vulnerable.”

Sir David’s death echoes that of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016, who was fatally stabbed as she attended a constituency surgery.

Home Secretary Priti Patel said questions are “rightly being asked” about the safety of MPs and she will “provide updates in due course”.

Brendan Cox, Ms Cox widower, wrote on Twitter: “This brings everything back.”

Sir David Amess death
Emergency services at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church (Yui Mok/PA)

Witnesses described the scene as “very distressing”.

Anthony Finch recalled seeing someone being taken out of the building and put into the back of a police car.

He told Sky News: “We arrived to do some work on the adjacent building… and at the point when I was crossing the road I saw an upset lady on the phone saying ‘you need to arrive quickly, he’s still in the building’.

“There were loads of armed police, overhead there was an air ambulance as well as a police helicopter. Obviously wondered what the hell was going on, you don’t often see armed police around the local area.

“I saw the suspect 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 told LBC: “It’s very odd and it’s very distressing, that’s for sure.”

Sir David Amess death
Police officers in forensic suits at the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North (Nick Ansell/PA)

Councillor John Lamb, who was at the scene, told the PA news agency: “He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son.

“He’s always trying to help people and especially refugees he’s tried to help.

“He’s a very amicable person and he does stick by his guns, he says what he believes and he sticks by it.”

Flags have been lowered to half-mast outside Parliament following the death of the Southend West MP.

Sir David Amess death
Sir David Amess was stabbed at a constituency surgery on Friday lunchtime (Yui Mok/PA)

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab tweeted: “Heartbroken that we have lost Sir David Amess MP.

“A great common sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit – including towards those he disagreed with. RIP my friend.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid described him as “a great man, a great friend, and a great MP” who was killed while fulfilling his democratic role.

Former Conservative prime minister David Cameron added: “This is the most devastating, horrific and tragic news.

“David Amess was a kind and thoroughly decent man – and he was the most committed MP you could ever hope to meet.”

Mr Cox, Ms Cox widower, said: “The pain, the loss, but also how much love the public gave us following the loss of Jo.

“I hope we can do the same for David now.”

Sir David Amess death
The Union flags above Downing Street have been lowered to half mast (Aaron Chown/PA)

Police said a knife was recovered at the scene.

Detectives are not looking for any other suspects and have asked witnesses with footage such as CCTV to come forward.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

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