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Father of London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt hits out at 'agenda of hate' and says son would be 'livid'

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 5 days ago Katy Clifton
a person sitting at a table in a restaurant © Provided by Evening Standard

The father of London Bridge terror attack victim Jack Merritt has said his son would be "livid" that his death is being used to further an agenda of hate that he fought against.

Two Cambridge University graduates - Mr Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23 - were stabbed to death by convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a knife rampage on Friday.

Khan was released from prison on licence in December 2018, halfway through a 16-year prison sentence after he was convicted of terror offences in February 2012.

The attack prompted the Ministry of Justice to review the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison and Boris Johnson vowed to take steps to ensure people are not released early after committing serious offences.

Priti Patel, Boris Johnson walking down the street: Boris Johnson attends the London Bridge crime scene. (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Boris Johnson attends the London Bridge crime scene. (PA)

The family of Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, had asked for his death to not to be used to justify introducing “even more draconian sentences” on offenders in a heartfelt tribute released on Sunday.

And in a tweet on Sunday evening referring to coverage of the attack, his father David said: “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."

a close up of a person: (West Midlands Police/PA Wire) © Provided by Evening Standard (West Midlands Police/PA Wire)

Writing for the Guardian on Monday, Mr Merritt's dad said his son would be “livid” if he could comment on his death.

“He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against,” he said.

“We should never forget that. What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens."

He added: “That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key.

“Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise.

“Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge.

“Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation.

“Jack believed in the inherent goodness of humanity, and felt a deep social responsibility to protect that. Through us all, Jack marches on.”

a group of people posing for the camera: Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. (AFP via Getty Images) © Provided by Evening Standard Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones. (AFP via Getty Images)

His father’s comments came after Mr Merritt’s girlfriend broke down in tears as she attended a vigil in his memory in Cambridge earlier on Monday.

Leanne O’Brien wept and clutched a cuddly toy as she was supported by family and friends at the event, which also honoured Miss Jones.

The Cambridge vigil took place as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stood side by side to pay their respects at a separate event at Guildhall Yard in London, observing a minute’s silence alongside members of the public.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Leanne O'Brien, the girlfriend of Jack Merritt, is comforted by family members during a vigil at The Guildhall. (PA) © Provided by Evening Standard Leanne O'Brien, the girlfriend of Jack Merritt, is comforted by family members during a vigil at The Guildhall. (PA)

They were joined by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who called for people to come together following the killings and work for a future “not defined by hatred but defined by hope, unity and love”

The vigils took place as West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old man arrested in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts had been recalled to prison due to a breach of his licence conditions.

He has been named in reports as Nazam Hussain, who was jailed with Usman in 2012 for terrorism offences, and like Usman had been released early on licence after successfully appealing against his original indeterminate sentence.

a person standing in front of a building: A police officer places a floral tribute near the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge. (REUTERS) © Provided by Evening Standard A police officer places a floral tribute near the scene of a stabbing on London Bridge. (REUTERS)

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit held him after a search of his home on Saturday.

The force has said there is no information to suggest he was involved in Khan’s attack at London Bridge.

Officers have been searching a home in Lindley Street, Stoke, on Monday, as part of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism investigation.

A resident, who did not wish to be named, told the PA news agency: “I saw the man who lived there on the first day he arrived.

a stack of flyers on a table: Jack Merritt tributes. (Nigel Howard) © Provided by Evening Standard Jack Merritt tributes. (Nigel Howard)

“He’s been there two months. He had a prison bag with him on the day he arrived and he met with two CID, so I knew it was something serious.

“The police have certainly been there since yesterday, possibly before.”

Khan, from Stoke, was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he launched the attack, which injured three others, after he was invited to the prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday afternoon.

The knifeman, who was living in Stafford, was given permission to travel into the heart of London by police and the Probation Service.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, he was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

One of the three people injured in the attack has been allowed to return home while the other two remain in a stable condition in hospital.The event was organised by Learning Together, a programme associated with Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology.

Mr Merritt’s father said his son “devoted his energy” to the programme, adding: “He lived and breathed fire in his pursuit of a better world for all humanity, particularly those most in need.”

Miss Jones, a volunteer with Learning Together from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was described as having a “great passion” for providing support to victims of crime by her family.

In a statement they said: “She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.

“Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support.”

London Bridge was reopened on Monday, while a police cordon remains in place on the west footpath near Fishmongers’ Hall.

No one else is being sought over the attack.

Additional reporting by Press Association.

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