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PM capitalised on my son’s death, says London Bridge victim’s father

27th Dec 2019

Nadine Osman

The father of Jack Merritt, who was murdered in the London Bridge terrorist attack on November 29, has criticised the prime minister for politically exploiting his son’s death.

Merritt, 25 and Saskia Jones, 23 worked for Learning Together, a programme run by Cambridge University’s Institute of Criminology, had been at Fishmongers’ Hall in London Bridge when Usman Khan launched the knife attack. Khan, who was shot dead by police, had been arrested in December 2010 and released on licence in December 2018, wearing an electronic tag.

In an interview with Sky News on December 10, Dave Merritt accused Boris Johnson of seeking to capitalising on son’s murder. “What was required was just a dignified approach, whereby the politicians would express their regrets, express their condolences to the people affected and would then get on with campaigning in the election – it wasn’t an election issue. Instead of seeing a tragedy, Boris Johnson saw an opportunity, and he went on the offensive and started talking about extending the tariff for prisoners serving sentences with a maximum of 25 years.”

In the aftermath of the attack, Johnson wrote an article in the Mail on Sunday calling for changes to sentencing laws. Under the headline ‘Send me back to No 10 and I will end automatic early release of violent offenders and terrorists,’ Johnson wrote, ‘As prime minister, I will always back our security services, our police and our troops. I will give them the funding they need, and I will boost their numbers. I will support them when they make difficult decisions in dangerous situations. I will ensure that they do not come under constant attack from the human rights’ lobby who would weaken our anti-terror laws. But these changes can only be achieved with a Conservative majority government.’

Merritt described Johnson’s response as a “knee-jerk reaction” and “an ill-considered intervention.” Merritt said he had not been contacted by Johnson since his son’s murder. He said police officers had passed on a message that the home secretary, Priti Patel, wanted to meet to “express her condolences”, but the family declined.

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