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Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn clash over terrorists serving full term
1 December 2019, 10:20
In the aftermath of the London Bridge terror attack, Jeremy Corbyn has said terrorists should "not necessarily" serve their full prison sentences.
Jeremy Corbyn told Sky News there were lessons to be learned from the incident and there should be a "full investigation" into the circumstances around the attacker's prison sentence and subsequent release.
Mr Corbyn's comments clashed with those of Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who claimed that scrapping early release would have stopped the London Bridge terror attacker on Friday.
Mr Johnson said violent offenders "must serve every day of their sentence, with no exceptions". The London Bridge terror attacker had been released on licence when he committed the attack.
But when asked whether convicted terrorists should serve their full prison sentences automatically, Jeremy Corbyn said: "I think it depends on the circumstances and it depends on the sentence but crucially depends on what they've done in prison.
"I think there has to be an examination of how our prison services work and crucially what happens to them on release from prison," Mr Corbyn added.
Boris Johnson however said: "If you are convicted of a serious terrorist offence, there should be a mandatory minimum sentence of 14 years - and some should never be released."
The prime minister has also said there are about 74 people who have been released early in similar circumstances to the London Bridge terror attacker and these people are being properly invigilated.
The father of London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt, said on Saturday that he does not wish his son's death to be "used as a pretext for more draconian sentences or for detaining people unnecessarily."
25-year-old Jack Merritt had been working in Cambridge University's criminology department and had been running the Learning Together conference about prisoners' rehabilitation. He was one of two people that were killed in the attack.
A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: "Work is already advanced on reviewing the licence conditions of every terrorist offender, making sure conditions are as tough as they need to be.
"We are also stepping up our already frequent meetings with these offenders."
It is believed the review was initiated as a preventative measure and there are no concerns about particular individuals who have been released.
The London Bridge attacker, Usman Khan, was jailed in 2012 for terrorism offences when the al-Qaeda inspired group he was part of had considered attacks in the UK, including bombing the London Stock Exchange, and setting up a jihadist training camp in Pakistan.
He was sentenced to indeterminate detention for "public protection" with a minimum jail term of eight years. This sentence would have allowed him to be kept in prison beyond the minimum term.
But in 2013 the Court of Appeal changed his sentence, replacing it with a 16-year-fixed term of which Khan should serve half in prison. Khan was then released on licence in December 2018.
As part of his licence conditions, Khan had been wearing a GPS police tag when he launched his attack inside Fishmongers' Hall on Friday.