1 Dec 2019

London Bridge attack victim worked with prisoners

12:50 pm on 1 December 2019

One of the people stabbed to death in the attack at London Bridge has been named as 25-year-old University of Cambridge graduate, Jack Merritt.

No caption

Jack Merritt had "a deep commitment to prisoner education and rehabilitation", a colleague says. Photo: BBC screenshot

He was one of two people killed when 28-year-old Usman Khan launched the attack at a Cambridge University conference on prisoner rehabilitation.

Khan, who had been jailed over a terror plot, was shot dead by police after members of the public restrained him.

A woman who died in the attack - declared by officers as a terrorist incident - has not yet been named. Three others were injured.

Mr Merritt, from Cambridge, was a course coordinator for Learning Together, a prisoners' rehabilitation programme which was hosting the conference at Fishmongers' Hall, at the north end of London Bridge.

Khan had been one of dozens of people - including students and offenders - at the event.

Mr Merritt's father, David, said on Twitter that he was a "a beautiful spirit who always took the side of the underdog".

"Jack spoke so highly of all the people he worked with & he loved his job," he added.

Mr Merritt studied for a bachelor's degree in law at the University of Manchester, graduating in 2016.

He went on to study at the University of Cambridge, where he worked in the criminology department running Learning Together.

Audrey Ludwig, who knew Mr Merritt through work, said his "deep commitment to prisoner education and rehabilitation was deeply impressive".

"I send condolences to his family, colleagues and the prisoners' group," she added.

Another friend said Mr Merritt was "incredibly witty and intelligent, with more lust for life than many our age and a determination to make his mark in the world".

Rapper Dave also paid tribute to Mr Merritt, saying he had "dedicated his life to helping others".

The Streatham-born rapper said it was "genuinely an honour to have met someone like you" and he would "never ever forget" everything the law graduate had "done for us".

Dave's Mercury Prize-winning album was inspired by rehabilitation therapy his brother Christopher Omoregie has received as he serves a life sentence for murder.

The Metropolitan Police said the attack is believed to have started inside Fishmongers' Hall at 13:58 GMT on Friday, before continuing onto London Bridge itself, where Khan was shot by armed officers.

An armed police officer covers a cordon near London Bridge in London, on November 29, 2019 after reports of shots being fired on London Bridge.

An armed police officer covers a cordon near London Bridge in the hours after the attack that left three people, including the assailant, dead. Photo: AFP

Attacker 'complied with conditions' of release

No caption

Usman Khan Photo: Supplied / West Midlands police

Khan was known to the authorities, having been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012. He was released from prison in December 2018 subject to an "extensive list of licence conditions", Met Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said.

Mr Basu said, on Saturday, that "to the best of my knowledge, he was complying with those conditions".

One of the conditions was that Khan was obliged to take part in the government's desistance and disengagement programme - the purpose of which is the rehabilitation of people who have been involved in terrorism.

Mr Basu said officers had been working "flat out" to try to establish the "full circumstances" of the stabbing.

He praised the "incredible acts of bravery" by members of the emergency services and the public who intervened - even after they realised Khan was wearing a "very convincing" fake explosive vest.

Mr Basu added officers had found no evidence to suggest anyone else was involved in the attack.

NHS chief executive Simon Stevens said three victims remained in hospital following the attack - two in a stable condition and one with less serious injuries.

Police carried out searches at two addresses in Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent as part of the investigation.

Staffordshire Police's Deputy Chief Constable, Nick Baker, said it was "vitally important everyone remains alert but not alarmed".

Members of the public were widely praised for intervening to tackle Khan to the ground before police arrived on the scene.

One man pictured in many newspapers, as he removed a knife from the scene, was a British Transport Police officer in plain clothes.

Chief Constable Paul Crowther, of British Transport Police, said his officer "bravely ran towards danger".

"He, as well as other members of the public, should be extremely proud of what they did to stop this man on London Bridge," he added.

Videos posted on social media show the knifeman being held down by members of the public.

One witness described how a man at the event at Fishmongers' Hall grabbed a narwhal tusk - a long white horn that protrudes from the whale - that was on the wall, and went outside to confront the attacker.

Another person let off a fire extinguisher in the face of the attacker to try to keep him at bay.

Some of those who helped were believed to be former prisoners attending the conference.

PM repeats criticism of early release for violent offenders

On a visit to the attack site, the prime minister said the practice of cutting jail sentences in half and letting violent offenders out early "simply isn't working".

Boris Johnson vowed to "toughen up sentences", while Labour's Jeremy Corbyn said there were questions to be answered.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson (C) visits the scene of a stabbing, on London Bridge in the City of London on November 30, 2019.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson visits the scene of the attack. Photo: AFP

But Mr Merritt's father said, in a now deleted post, on Twitter: "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."

Political parties cancelled some events on Saturday, which had been planned ahead of the general election on 12 December.

Flags on UK government buildings were flown at half-mast as a mark of respect to all those affected by the attack.

The Queen said in a statement: "Prince Philip and I have been saddened to hear of the terror attacks at London Bridge.

"We send our thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathies to all those who have lost loved ones and who have been affected by yesterday's terrible violence."