LIVE – Updated at 14:07
The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been declared a terrorist incident.
The 69-year-old, who had been an MP since 1983, was attacked while meeting constituents during a routine surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, at midday on Friday.
A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.
The suspect is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage, though this has not yet been confirmed by police.
As part of the investigation, officers are also carrying out searches at two addresses in London.
Home secretary Priti Patel has asked all police forces to review security arrangements for MPs “with immediate effect” following the attack.
Tory veteran Sir David, who was described by prime minister Boris Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”, had been an MP since 1983 and was married with five children.
- Fatal stabbing of Tory MP declared terrorist incident
- Police to contact every MP over security
- Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer arrive in Leigh-on-Sea to pay tribute
John Rentoul: David Amess’ death reminds us of the bravery of those who serve the people
14:01 , Andy Gregory
It takes courage to be a politician, even if the bravery often takes the form of not thinking about the risks, writes The Independent’s chief political commentator, John Rentoul.
Most of the MPs that I speak to say they don’t think about it much, except in the days after terrible events such as the death of Sir David Amess. In a few days’ time, they will think about it less, mainly because it isn’t possible to keep up a heightened sense of alarm for long.
We should think about it for them, however, because we owe them a debt of gratitude for taking on a role that makes democracy possible.
Read his thinking in full here:
Opinion: David Amess’ death reminds us of the bravery of those who serve the people
Ireland’s president offers condolences to Sir David Amess’ family
13:47 , Andy Gregory
The president of Ireland has extended condolences to the family of Sir David Amess.
Michael D Higgins said: “May I express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends, colleagues in Parliament and constituents of Sir David Amess, who was murdered while carrying out that most fundamental act of a politician, meeting with his constituents, assisting them with their issues.
“All of those who value representative politics will think also today of the family of the late Jo Cox, who was taken from her family in June 2016.
“I know that all those who serve the people of the United Kingdom will have been deeply affected by these two murders and on behalf of the Irish people, I send them our deepest sympathies.”
Jo Cox’s husband says death of Sir David Amess ‘brings everything back’
13:30 , Chiara Giordano
The husband of Batley and Spen Labour MP Jo Cox, who died after being shot and stabbed outside a constituency surgery in 2016, has said Sir David Amess’ death “brings everything back”.
Brendan Cox wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts and love are with David’s family. They are all that matter now. This brings everything back.
“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.”
He later added: “Terrorists want us to respond by amplifying their hatred, dividing communities & giving them the notoriety the crave. We can’t change what happened yesterday, but each of us can be part of stopping the terrorist achieving those aims.”
My thoughts and love are with David’s family. They are all that matter now. This brings everything back. 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. pic.twitter.com/hwRN0PODPK
— Brendan Cox (@MrBrendanCox) October 15, 2021
Sir Lindsay Hoyle pays tribute to ‘kind and generous’ MP
13:15 , Chiara Giordano
Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, who visited the scene in Leigh-on-Sea alongside the prime minister, home secretary and leader of the opposition this morning, said his thoughts remained with the family of Sir David Amess ‘as they mourn the death of this kind and generous man’.
Today I joined Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer in Leigh-on-Sea to lay a wreath in memory of Sir David Amess MP and the dedicated service he provided to his country and constituency in his almost 40 years of continuous service. pic.twitter.com/3eEYwMKdAS
— Sir Lindsay Hoyle (@CommonsSpeaker) October 16, 2021
MPs must not be ‘cowed’ by threat of violence, says Priti Patel
13:00 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel has said MPs must not be “cowed” by the threat of violence in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess.
Speaking after laying a wreath at the scene of Friday’s tragedy in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, Ms Patel described Sir David as “a man of the people, killed doing a job that he loved, serving his constituents as an elected democratic member”.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has the full story:
MPs must not be ‘cowed’ by threat of violence after Amess death, says Priti Patel
Southend councillor says he would not change the way he engages with residents
12:42 , Chiara Giordano
On the issue of politicians’ safety in the wake of Sir David Amess’s murder, Southend Conservative councillor John Lamb said he would not change the way he engages with residents.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s part of the role that you as a councillor or as a member of Parliament are expected to meet with people and talk with them.
“You can’t think too much about it, if you do you wouldn’t do the job.
“If we start locking ourselves away we might as well give up being councillors or parliamentarians and why should these people, whether they be terrorists or whoever they might be, why should they disrupt our democracy?
“If they had their way, they would try and shut our democracy down because they can’t stand democracy.”
12:27 , Chiara Giordano
Every MP in the UK is being contacted by police today to discuss whether they should step up security measures in the wake of the murder of Sir David Amess.
Officers will discuss equipment already available to MPs, like panic buttons in office and key fob-style emergency alarms, and security arrangements for public events in the coming days.
Our political editor Andrew Woodcock has more details:
Every MP offered security advice in wake of David Amess murder
Councillor rushed to scene after hearing MP had been stabbed
12:27 , Chiara Giordano
Southend borough councillor John Lamb said he dashed to the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea when he heard MP Sir David Amess had been “stabbed multiple times.”
“David was there holding his surgery at that Methodist church and this person had gone there to join the surgery and when he got the chance and he went in to be seen by David, then he drew a knife and stabbed him,” he told the PA news agency.
By the time the councillor arrived, police cordons were up and he could not get into the church.
He said: “We knew it must be very serious because the paramedics had been working on Sir David for over two and a half hours and they hadn’t got him on the way to hospital. We knew it had to be extremely serious and that the worst scenario could occur – we were hoping it wouldn’t but it did. That was when we heard that he had died.”
The Conservative councillor said a worker from Sir David’s office who was in the surgery during the attack was “not in touch at the moment because it’s so distressing; she’s getting counselling at the moment”.
Essex Police vows to ‘work tirelessly’ to secure justice in tribute left at scene
11:53 , Chiara Giordano
The chief constable of Essex Police has delivered a message of condolence on behalf of the force as he laid flowers outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
The handwritten message read: “We promise your family, friends and colleagues that we will work tirelessly with our policing partners to secure justice for the terrible crime committed against you.
“Essex is united in respect for your public service.”
Parishioners feel ‘violated’ over MP’s killing in Essex church
11:27 , Chiara Giordano
Rev Clifford Newman said he had been told by police it would be “at least three of four days” before he would be able to get back into Belfairs Methodist Church.
Speaking to Sky News, he said parishioners felt “violated” that such an act had taken place at the church.
“This is their second home in a lot of instances, they worship here, they’ve grown up in the area, and they’re just devastated,” he said.
“It’s going to take a long time for them to come to terms with how a place of sanctuary has been violated in such a manner.
“They feel saddened and devastated that this should happen to such a nice man.”
MP’s killing ‘absolutely wrong and cannot get in the way of our functioning democracy’, says Priti Patel
11:15 , Chiara Giordano
Speaking to reporters in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, home secretary Priti Patel said Sir David Amess was “was killed doing a job that he loves, serving his own constituents as an elected democratic member and, of course, acts of this are absolutely wrong and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy.”
She added: “So that is why there are measures under way right now – I convened meetings yesterday, I’ve been with the Speaker of the House, and with the police and our security services to make sure that all measures are being put in place for the security of MPs so that they can carry on with their duties as elected democratic members.”
Locals pay tribute to Sir David Amess outside church where he was killed
11:05 , Chiara Giordano
A steady stream of people has been laying flowers near the police cordon outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where MP Sir David Amess was stabbed to death.
Local resident Samantha Macdonald, 44, tearfully recalled meeting Sir David when he came to her school when she was 12.
She told the PA news agency: “He was always so involved with the community, so accessible as well – prided himself on being accessible.
“He knew every head teacher’s name of every school in his constituency. My 13-year-old daughter absolutely loved him.”
‘We cannot be cowed’, says Priti Patel
10:45 , Chiara Giordano
Home secretary Priti Patel said a balance could be found between the democratic process and the security of MPs, adding that “we cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation…to stop us from functioning”.
She added: “Acts like this are obviously wrong and we cannot let that get in the way of our functioning democracy.”
Councillor says MP’s killing should lead to review of how politicians engage with residents
10:35 , Chiara Giordano
Southend councillor Alex Bright said the murder of MP Sir David Amess should lead to a review of how politicians engage with their residents.
He told the PA news agency: “It’s difficult because to stop a lone attack like this is almost impossible, but I think there are going to have to be basic ways in which we change the way that we engage with our residents unfortunately.
“Security is at the forefront of our minds, much more than it ever has been, for everybody in any job or career.”
The Conservative councillor laid flowers near the police cordon outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Sir David was stabbed to death.
Mr Bright said the MP, whom he had known since he was a teenager, had been a “permanent fixture in Southend, in Conservative politics and in the community”.
Labour MP Harriet Harman to call on PM to back safety review
10:09 , Chiara Giordano
Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said she will be writing to the prime minister asking him to back a Speaker’s Conference to review the safety of parliamentarians in their constituencies following the death of Sir David Amess.
Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the issue of MP safety has worsened since her election in 1982, Ms Harman said: “Yes, it absolutely has.”
She added: “I don’t think anybody wants to go to a situation where the police are vetting individual constituents who come and see us, but I’m sure there is a safer way to go about our business.
“That’s why I’m proposing we have a Speaker’s Conference, which is something that happens only once every 10 years or so where there is a major issue for parliament and our democracy, and the Speaker brings together the parties and the authorities and comes up with recommendations.
“Since Jo Cox’s tragic killing, we’ve had changes in our home security, we’ve had changes in security in parliament, but we haven’t looked at the issue of how we go about that important business in our constituency, but do it in a safe way – and I think we must do that now.
“We cannot have the death of an MP being a price worth paying for our democracy.”
In pictures: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer lay flowers at church where MP was killed
09:49 , Chiara Giordano
Prime minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer have laid flowers at the church where Tory MP Sir David Amess was stabbed to death on Friday.
The two party leaders were joined by home secretary Priti Patel and Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, this morning.
Boris Johnson and Priti Patel arrive in Leigh-on-Sea
09:11 , Chiara Giordano
Prime minister Boris Johnson and home secretary Priti Patel have arrived in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, to pay tribute to late Tory MP Sir David Amess.
Mr Johnson laid a wreath at the front of Belfairs Methodist Church, where Sir David was fatally stabbed on Friday.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Commons speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle are also in the town.
Police to contact every MP over security
08:44 , Chiara Giordano
Every MP will be contacted by police to discuss their security arrangements, says National Police Chiefs’ Council.
A spokesperson said: “In light of yesterday’s tragic attack every MP will be contacted individually by Op Bridger representatives in their local force to discuss their security arrangements, and to ensure they are aware of all advice pertaining to their personal safety and security.
“They will also speak to MPs about security arrangements for any events they are planning to attend in the coming days, so the appropriate advice can be provided.
“We encourage MPs to immediately report any security concerns to their local police force in order to keep themselves, their staff and members of the public attending surgeries safe.
“Funding is available through the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority for security needs based on threat assessments made by police.”
Councillor says Sir David would not have approved of online constituent meetings
08:41 , Chiara Giordano
Councillor Kevin Buck, deputy chairman of the Southend West constituency association, has said he is against moving MPs’ surgery meetings to Zoom after the death of colleague Sir David Amess.
Mr Buck said he did not believe Sir David would have wanted meetings to go online, nor would he have wanted extra protection such as metal detectors and a police presence at face-to-face talks with constituents.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “I don’t think he would have approved, I personally don’t approve really, I know we have to take our own personal safety very seriously, but I enjoy, as Sir David did, meeting the people.
“That’s why we do this, so that we can lead the people and help the people and I don’t want to do that from behind a TV screen or from behind the glass screen or a security box because then we’ve lost.”
Tobias Ellwood urges MPs to pause face-to-face constituent meetings
08:20 , Chiara Giordano
A former Conservative minister has urged his fellow MPs to stop offering face-to-face meetings with constituents following the fatal stabbing of Sir David Amess.
Tobias Ellwood, who attempted to save the life of P Keith Palmer following a terror attack on Westminster in 2017, told BBC Radio 4’s The World Tonight programme: “I would recommend that no MP has a direct surgery until you can move to Zoom. There are other ways.
“You can actually achieve an awful lot over the telephone, you can get things moving far faster than having to wait for the surgery date as well.”
Fatal stabbing of Tory MP declared terrorist incident
08:09 , Chiara Giordano
The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who was killed while meeting constituents at a routine public surgery on Friday, has been declared as a terrorist incident.
The 69-year-old suffered multiple injuries in the attack at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex.
Police said a 25-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder.
Counter terror detectives are investigating his motivations as officers carry out searches at two London addresses.
Read the full story here:
David Amess: Fatal stabbing of Tory MP declared as a terrorist incident by police
08:06 , Chiara Giordano
Good morning and welcome to The Independent’s live coverage following the fatal stabbing of Conservative MP David Amess in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex. Stay tuned for rolling updates throughout the day.Internet Explorer Channel Network