A Conservative MP was murdered in Essex today, October 15th. According to LBC, “Police responded to reports of a stabbing at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea this afternoon. Armed police and forensics officers were seen outside the church after the stabbing.
MP Sir David Amess, 69, was stabbed at the scene with a large police presence there shortly before 1pm today.”
The Telegraph reports that “Essex Police said the response of the emergency services to the incident was immediate and officers arrived at the scene within minutes.”
Amess, a Tory MP who represented Southend West in Essex since 1997, was at Belfairs Methodist Church as part of a “constituent surgery,” at which point, Sky News reports, “a man walked [in]…and stabbed him multiple times.” A constituent surgery is a form of meeting in UK politics in which MPs meet directly with their constituents and those constituents can express their concerns about governance issues.
Few other details are currently known about the attack. One source, as ZeroHedge reports, said that Sir Amess was stabbed three times by the attacker. Only one attacker was reported.
Initially, Sir Amess was treated at the scene for life-threatening injuries and a Conservative Party source told Sky News that an air ambulance was at the scene of the attack.
Later, however, around 3 pm English Time, police announced that Sir Amess died of his wounds at the scene of the stabbing.
The Telegraph later announced that a 25-year-old suspect, a British national of “Somalian heritage,” was arrested and that the police are not looking for any additional suspects.
Anthony Fitch, who was near the church in the immediate aftermath of the attack, watched police lead the suspect away from the scene and told the Mirror that “He was taken away by two officers with armed police behind him. He didn’t make any noise.”
Discussing the possibility that the shocking murder of Sir Amess was a terror attack, Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington said: “It will be for investigators to determine whether or not this is a terrorist incident, but as always they will keep an open mind” and that the investigation “is being led by officers from the specialist counter-terrorism command.” Chief Constable Harrington also said that “paramedics from the East of England Ambulance Service worked extremely hard to save Sir David.”
Police reportedly recovered the suspect’s cellphone, which they are investigating for incriminating texts or links to foreign suspects. A knife was also recovered at the scene.
The attack has shocked both the normally sleepy town and other UK politicians.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, speaker of the House of Commons, said: “In the coming days we will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues.” Sir Hoyle also adamantly declared that “people who don’t accept our values won’t win.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, speaking about the incident, said “David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future and we have lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague.”
Other politicians, according to Express, reportedly “described the attack as an assault on democracy.”
While this is the first murder of an MP since the 2016 killing of Jo Cox, there has been a spate of high-profile stabbings in the UK in recent years. At least 20 people were murdered with knives in London in the first six months of 2021, for example.
In May of 2013, a British Army soldier, Fusilier Lee Rigby, a soldier in the famed Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was stabbed to death by two men, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, in broad daylight. Both men, Muslims of Nigerian descent, reportedly told passers-by that they killed Mr. Rigby to avenge the killing of Muslims by the British military.