Sir David Amess MP: Police investigating whether killing was terrorist attack

Police are investigating whether the killing of Sir David Amess was a terrorist attack as a review of MPs’ security was ordered by the Speaker of the House of Commons.

Essex Police said last night that the investigation into the fatal stabbing of Sir David was being led by counter-terrorism officers after a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder following the attack at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend at midday on Friday.

Chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington said the 69-year-old Southend West MP was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.

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Mr Harrington said “it will be for investigators to determine whether this is a terrorist incident”, adding they will be “keeping an open mind” over the motive.

Children leave flowers at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after he was stabbed several times at a constituency surgery.

Tory veteran Sir David had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.

The police update came after Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said there would be a review of MPs’ security following the killing, which follows the murder of Jo Cox in 2016.

Sir Lindsay cautioned there must be no “knee jerk reaction”.

“What we want to do is make sure MPs can carry out their duties,” he said. “We have got to make sure MPs are safe.

Tributes at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea.

“What we will do is go through this, we will review it. What we can’t have is people trying to stop MPs carrying out their duties. We will not and must not tolerate intimidation, threat, violence and at worst somebody being murdered again.”

Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis said his Parliamentary colleagues were both devastated but also sadly “not massively surprised” by the killing of Sir David.

“The problem is to be a good constituency MP you have got to be meeting the public,” he said. “All of us are quite routinely threatened and face harassment and intimidation and death threats. In Yorkshire we tragically know where that can lead.

“There are no easy solutions to any of this. We said five years ago that we needed to address the culture in which we do our politics.

David Amess pictured in 2015.

“We have had two MPs murdered in five years and other MPs have been attacked as well. All of our staff are constantly being harassed and intimidated and threatened.”

He said the situation is also having an impact on democracy.

“It means a lot of good people who might step into public life don’t because they think why should I subject myself to that? A lot of good people end up leaving politics as well.

“The overwhelming majority of MPs do this job because they want to make a difference.

“It is devastating what has happened to David and this is also an assault on democracy. This was an MP elected by his constituents, in his constituency, serving his constituents and doing his job and somebody has stopped him from doing that.

“It is an attack on the foundations of our democracy and it is a dark moment for our country.”

Mr Jarvis said he had known Sir David well.

“David had an office quite close to my office and we would often have a natter in the lift on the way to vote, nearly always in different lobbies. He would always have a smile, was very funny and incredibly generous.

“Just a couple of weeks ago he wrote me a lovely letter as we had both been shortlisted for the Parliamentary book of the year. I had won and he sent me a very generous letter saying my book had deserved to win, which is a measure of what he was like. He was a great Parliamentarian, very deeply respected and will be greatly missed.”

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