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Thursday, December 02, 2021

David Amess stabbing: All you need to know

Authorities have called the fatal stabbing of Conservative lawmaker David Amess as a terrorist act.

By: Express Web Desk |
October 16, 2021 4:40:09 pm
Conservative MP David Amess with his pugs, Lily and Boat in London, 2013. (AP)

Veteran British parliamentarian David Amess was stabbed to death Friday while interacting with constituents at a church near London. Though paramedics attempted to rescue him, the 69-year-old’s injuries proved fatal.

Police have said that the stabbing was a terrorist incident. They have arrested a suspect, who the police believe acted alone.

Reacting to the incident, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was “deeply shocked and heart-stricken.”

“David was a man who believed passionately in this country and in its future, and we’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend and colleague,” Johnson said, according to an Associated Press report.

Who is David Amess?

Amess held the distinction of being one of the longest-serving politicians in the House of Commons. He was a well-known figure from the Conservative party, with a political experience of nearly four decades. He had been the representative for Southend West, which includes Leigh-on-Sea, since 1997.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, right, and Leader of the Labour Party Keir Starmer carry flowers as they arrive at the scene where a member of Parliament was stabbed. (AP)

Socially conservative, Amess’ expertise focused primarily on animal welfare and pro-life issues. According to a Reuters report, one of his final contributions to the House of Commons was asking for a debate on animal welfare.

Amess also campaigned extensively to have his constituency of Southend declared a city. It is currently designated as a town — attaining the city status would provide a fillip to the seaside town’s economy and raise its profile.

Following Amess’ death, many political leaders have suggested that providing Southend with the coveted status would be an worthy tribute to the leader. Labour party representative Charlotte Nichols backed the idea on Twitter, responding to a user’s comment calling for the city tag with “Absolutely; I can’t think of a better way to honour his memory.”

He was accorded knighthood by the Queen in 2015 for his political and public service, thus assuming the title of Sir David. The lawmaker is survived by his wife and five children.

What happened?

David Amess was at a constituency event in the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea when he was stabbed multiple times. Though police and paramedics were called in, the lawmaker died on spot.

Emergency services at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, England on Oct. 15, 2021.(AP)

“When they [paramedics] arrived, they found Sir David Amess MP, who had suffered multiple injuries. This was a difficult incident, but our officers and paramedics worked extremely hard to save Sir David. Tragically, he died at the scene,” The Guardian quoted Essex Police Chief Constable Ben-Julian Harrington as saying.

Initial reports suggest that the attacker was a 25-year-old British man of Somali heritage. The Guardian said that the man is in police custody and has been arrested on suspicion of murder. The knife used for the attack has been recovered as well.

Police said that the stabbing was a terrorist incident, and that they believe the attacker acted alone. In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said that initial investigations have revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism.

Searches are being carried out at two addressed in the London area as a part of the investigation. Police said specialist counter-terrorism officers were leading the initial investigation.

Growing trend

David Amess’ killing is the latest in a series of incidents of violence against lawmakers in England.

Five years ago, lawmaker Jo Cox was shot and stabbed by a far-right extremist outside a library minutes before she was due to hold a constituency meeting in Birstall, West Yorkshire. The 41-year-old Labour MP’s killing had renewed concern about the risks politicians run in their professional life. It had also triggered a conversation on the increasingly divisive nature of politics in Britain (Cox’s murder took place weeks before Brexit referendum).

As a norm, politicians in Britain are rarely given police protection when they meet with their constituents. Their schedules are widely publicised — Amess, for instance, published the times and locations of his constituent meetings on his website.

Two other British lawmakers have been attacked over the past two decades during their voter town halls. In 2010, Labour party legislator Stephen Timms was stabbed in the stomach by a 21-year-old female student who said she was radicalised by online sermons of an al-Qaida-linked preacher. In 2000, Liberal Democrat Nigel Jones and his aide Andrew Pennington were attacked by a man wielding a sword during such a meeting. Pennington was killed and Jones wounded in the attack in Cheltenham, England.

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