This is the second murder of a British MP in five years. David Amess, a Conservative elected member of the House of Commons, was stabbed to death in his constituency of Leigh-on-Sea (UK) on Friday October 15. A suspect was immediately arrested on the spot. Franceinfo summarizes what we know about this case.
David Amess succumbed to his injuries, despite emergency response
David Amess, 69, was stabbed several times in the Methodist church where he received his constituents while on parliamentary duty in Leigh-on-Sea, about 60 km east of London. The facts took place shortly after noon, according to local police. “He was treated by the emergency services, but unfortunately died on the spot”, she clarified.
The police confirmed having arrested a 25-year-old man. They emphasized that they were not looking for “nobody else” after this arrest, and added that a knife had been found there.
The anti-terrorism services were in charge of the investigation
Investigation “is headed by officers of the anti-terrorism department” and “it will be up to the investigators to establish whether or not it is a terrorist act”Essex Police Chief Ben-Julian Harrington said during a press briefing. “The first elements of the investigation revealed a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”, announced the metropolitan police on the night of Friday to Saturday.
The Minister of the Interior, Priti Patel, has also “asked all police forces to review security arrangements for deputies with immediate effect.” She met with representatives of the police and security and intelligence agencies, and also met with the Speaker of the House of Commons. The latter announced a review “in the coming days” security measures for parliamentarians.
The victim is an elected conservative, defender of animal welfare
Born in the eastern suburbs of London in 1952 and from a humble background, David Amess studied economics and politics. He was first a teacher, then a recruitment consultant, before entering politics. According to many parliamentarians who worked with him, he was very “devoted to his family” and his wife Julia, who worked alongside him as an assistant. Together they had five children.
First elected MP in 1983, David Amess was a member of the Tory party and a staunch supporter of Brexit, reports the Guardian (in English). Despite his long parliamentary experience, he was never a minister and remained little exposed to the media. Very religious, he was of the Catholic faith and strongly opposed to abortion. He was also in favor of reinstating the death penalty. However, his favorite topic in Parliament was animal welfare. He was one of the few Conservative MPs in favor of banning fox hunting.
In a book published in November 2020, David Amess had mentioned the murder of Jo Cox in 2016. The MEP was murdered in the street by a neo-Nazi sympathizer, a week before the referendum on Brexit. In his book, the Conservative claimed that Labor was killed “in the most barbaric way possible”, relates the Guardian. “We all make ourselves available to our constituents and regularly meet people with mental health problems. It could happen to any of us.”, David Amess wrote.
The political class salutes an elected official “with a big heart”
Many members of the political class paid tribute to David Amess on Friday, October 15. “Our hearts are very shocked and sad today, after the passing of MP Davis Amess, who was killed (…) after almost 40 years of service” its constituents and the UK, Tory Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in a brief televised intervention. It is “a tragic day for our democracy”, abounded the former head of government, the conservative Theresa May, in a tweet.
“He was one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”
PM Boris Johnson pays tribute to Sir David Amess, who was killed after being stabbed in his constituency: “We’ve lost today a fine public servant and a much-loved friend & colleague”https://t.co/ItKZ7yxQQo pic.twitter.com/VQ0erq280r
— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) October 15, 2021
On Twitter, Justice Minister Dominic Raab praised the “big heart” of the chosen one and his “great openness, including towards those with whom he did not agree”. Former Conservative Health Minister Matt Hancock said David Amess had been his “mentor” when he entered Parliament, adding that he was “always selfless and had time for everyone”. “He was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion towards all”, also described the Minister of Housing Michael Gove.
“He was highly regarded by MPs and staff, and during his nearly four decades here he built a reputation for kindness and generosity.”, responded in a statement the Speaker of the House of Commons, Lindsay Hoyle. The flags were half-masted in his honor on Friday in Westminster and Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s residence.
A moving tribute was also paid to David Amess on Friday evening, in a church in Leigh-on-Sea, in the presence of a hundred people. Flowers were placed near its parliamentary office.