Hundreds attend candlelit vigil for MP Sir David Amess as terror suspect detained

16 October 2021, 20:25 | Updated: 16 October 2021, 22:21

People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after he was stabbed several times.
People during a candlelight vigil at Belfairs Recreation Ground near to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, where Conservative MP Sir David Amess died after he was stabbed several times. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Hundreds of people gathered at a candlelit vigil in memory of MP Sir David Amess, who was fatally stabbed while meeting constituents in Essex.

The vigil drew crowds carrying lanterns and candles at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea on Saturday evening, to honour the MP who was stabbed to death on Friday.

It comes as the Met Police confirmed detectives had further detained the 25-year-old suspect - understood to be named Ali Harbi Ali - under the Terrorism Act.

He can now be held until October 22.

Sir David, who had five children, was killed in the tragic attack at Belfairs Methodist Church on Friday afternoon.

Read more: Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer leave flowers to Sir David Amess after 'terror incident'

Read more: Tributes left to Tory MP Sir David Amess as police declare terror incident

At the vigil, Southend councillor Alan Dear addressed those gathered in a circle around dozens of glowing candles on the grass.

"For me, and I know for all of you because you're here, it's been a terrible 24 hours for all of us," he said.

He went on: "For me, (Sir David) was a good friend, and I know he was a good friend to all of you here.

"He spent 40 years of his life caring for the constituents of Basildon and Southend.

"He was a very kind, loving, gentle man.

"A gentleman and a gentle man."

Mr Dear added that Sir Davis was a person he will "never forget" as he addressed the crowd on Saturday.

He invited people to join him in a minute's silence, which was followed by rounds of spontaneous applause.

The vigil was held just hours after Boris Johnson, Keir Starmer, Priti Patel and the speaker of the House, Lindsay Hoyle, laid flowers at the scene of Sir David's murder.

Their tributes joined scores of messages left for the MP, who served since 1983.

Read more: Stop face-to-face meetings with voters until security review complete, MP requests

Crowds gather to mourn the death of MP Sir David Amess.
Crowds gather to mourn the death of MP Sir David Amess. Picture: Alamy

A message from Sir David's cousins, left with floral tributes near Belfairs Methodist Church, said: "RIP David. Thinking of your lovely family. Can't believe this has actually happened. Will always love you. Cousins Moira and Pat."

A further family message, from second cousins, said: "I am so sad to hear the news of this brutal attack. You was a great man, husband, father and member of our family. You will be missed. Rest in peace."

It is understood that Labour will not be standing a candidate in the Southend West by-election following the death of the Tory MP.

People gathered at a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea for murdered MP Sir David Amess.
People gathered at a vigil in Leigh-on-Sea for murdered MP Sir David Amess. Picture: Alamy

The party is set to follow the principle established after Jo Cox's murder in 2016, when the major parties declined to select candidates in the subsequent Batley and Spen by-election.

As a result, it is understood Labour will not contest the by-election to find a successor to murdered Conservative MP Sir David Amess.

The Liberal Democrats have also confirmed they will not fight for the seat when a date is set.