Fatal stabbing of MP Sir David Amess declared terrorist incident, Met Police confirm

15 October 2021, 15:04 | Updated: 16 October 2021, 01:09

  • Conservative MP Sir David Amess stabbed to death at constituency surgery
  • A 25-year-old man, believed to be a British national of Somali heritage, has been arrested on suspicion of murder
  • The Metropolitan Police have declared the attack a terrorist incident, with a "potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism"
  • Paramedics fought to save Sir David's life at the scene at Belfairs Methodist Church in Southend
  • MPs pay tribute after father-of-five MP is stabbed to death
  • Questions raised over MPs’ security after latest attack on public servant
Sir David died aged 69 after being stabbed at a constituency surgery
Sir David died aged 69 after being stabbed at a constituency surgery. Picture: Parliament

By Will Taylor

The fatal stabbing of Conservative MP Sir David Amess in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday has been declared as a terrorist incident, with the investigation being led by counter terrorism policing, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed.

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Metropolitan Police said Senior National Coordinator for Counter Terrorism Policing, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, formally declared the incident as terrorism in a statement.

The early investigation has revealed "a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism", the force said.

As part of the investigation, officers are currently carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said.

A 25-year-old man, believed to be a British national with Somali heritage, was arrested earlier on suspicion of murder and remains in custody.

The force believe the man acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with the matter at this time but inquiries into the circumstances of the incident are continuing.

Father-of-five Sir David, 69, was attacked at his surgery in Southend, Essex, on Friday afternoon.

An air ambulance flew to Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, with armed police and forensics officers also deployed to the scene.

Chief Constable Harrington of Essex Police said officers attended the scene "within minutes" and found Sir David with multiple injuries.

He described it as a "difficult incident" and said emergency services worked hard to save his life.

The Chief Constable added: "Today he was simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short.

"Today is a tragic day for the family and colleagues of Sir David, the community of Southend and indeed for the whole of greater Essex."

The attack has seen MPs from across the political spectrum send in messages of support. Flags were lowered to half mast outside Parliament.

Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo, wrote online: "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."

READ MORE: Eye witnesses tell of their shock after Tory MP stabbed to death at constituency surgery

READ MORE: MPs and politicians share tributes for Sir David Amess after stabbing death

READ MORE: Tragic MPs attacked on the job while in office as concerns raised about security

Floral tributes left at the scene of the stabbing
Floral tributes left at the scene of the stabbing. Picture: LBC

The Prime Minister's wife Carrie Johnson posted online: "Absolutely devastating news about Sir David Amess. He was hugely kind and good. An enormous animal lover and a true gent. This is so completely unjust. Thoughts are with his wife and their children."

Chancellor Rishi Sunak wrote: "The worst aspect of violence is its inhumanity. It steals joy from the world and can take from us that which we love the most.

Flowers being laid in tribute to Tory MP David Amess

"Today it took a father, a husband, and a respected colleague. All my thoughts and prayers are with Sir David’s loved ones."

Hope Not Hate tweeted: "Sir David Amess' murder is an attack on our democracy and freedom. Condolences to his family and those closest to him."

Sir David was first elected to Parliament in 1983, representing Basildon, before taking up his seat in Southend West in 1997.

His constituency website said his main interests and areas of expertise were animal welfare and pro-life issues.

It also added that he was active in holding meetings with his constituents. Surgeries allow the public to speak to their MP directly, and he would hold them on the first and third Friday of each month.

Read more: Tory MP Sir David Amess stabbed multiple times at constituency surgery at church in Essex

MP David Amess stabbed during constituency surgery

Councillor John Lamb, who was at the scene, called him an amicable family man, who had four daughters and a son.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: "Thinking of my friend and colleague Sir David Amess and his family."

Education Secretary Nadhim Zahawi said before the news of Sir David's death: "Shocked to hear the reports coming out of Southend West.

"Sir David is a committed public servant as well as a close colleague and friend.

Tributes paid to Tory MP Sir David Amess

"My thoughts and prayers are with him and his family at this difficult time."

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tweeted before the news of Sir David's death: "Horrific and deeply shocking news. Thinking of David, his family and his staff."

Angela Rayner, Labour's deputy leader said before the news: "I'm horrified by the reports regarding David Amess and an incident at his constituency surgery today.

"We don’t know the details yet but on behalf of all of us in the Labour Party I want to say all of our thoughts are with David and we all hope that he pulls through and is ok."

Essex police said: "A man has been arrested on suspicion murder after a man was stabbed in Leigh-on-Sea.

"We were called to an address in Eastwood Road North shortly after 12.05pm today (Friday 15 October).

"We attended and found a man injured.

"He was treated by emergency services but, sadly, died at the scene.

"A 25 year-old man was quickly arrested after officers arrived at the scene on suspicion of murder and a knife was recovered.

"He is currently in custody.

"We are not looking for anyone else in connection with this incident."

Eyewitness shares scenes on the ground

Eye-witness Anthony told LBC: "The scene was ‘completely and utterly swamped by police, ambulance, armed police.’

"I saw someone get taken out the building, put into the back of a police car.”

“Apparently he was stabbed quite a few times.

"It’s nothing that you think would happen round this area.”

“To have it next door to where you’re working is obviously very upsetting.

“It’s very hard, it’s very distressing that’s for sure."

One person posted online earlier: "David Amess Southend MP stabbed in Belfairs Methodist church Eastwood road literally as I was outside the building."

Another posted: “Something big going on outside Belfairs Methodist Church on Eastwood Road North near the Woodcutters.

“Police, ambulances and air ambulance!! Apparent stabbing!!”

Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel are understood to be returning to London from a regional Cabinet meeting in Bristol following the attack.

The Methodist Church tweeted after reports of the stabbing: “Our thoughts and prayers are with Sir David Amess MP and all affected following reports of a serious incident at Belfairs Church in Leigh-on-Sea.”