October 15, 2021
Man arrested on suspicion of murder after Conservative MP attacked during regular surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex
Sir David Amess had represented Southend West in Essex since 1997, and before that Basildon. Photograph: S Meddle/ITV/Rex/Shutterstock
By Peter Walker | The Guardian
The Conservative MP Sir David Amess has died after he was stabbed several times during a surgery at his constituency in Essex, police have said.
Amess, 69, an MP since 1983 who had represented Southend West in Essex since 1997, was attacked at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. He is the second MP to be killed in just over five years, after the murder of Jo Cox.
Essex police said a 25-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of murder. Officers were called to the scene at about 12.05pm on Friday, the force said, to reports that Amess had been stabbed, confirming he was the victim.
A statement said: “Despite the best efforts of paramedics, sadly, he died at the scene. A 25 year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and is currently in custody. We have recovered a knife from the scene and are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident.”
The news prompted shock and distress across the political spectrum. Flags at parliament were lowered to half-mast.
The Commons Speaker, Lindsay Hoyle, said the killing would “send shock waves across the parliamentary community and the whole country. In the coming days we will need to discuss and examine MPs’ security and any measures to be taken, but for now, our thoughts and prayers are with David’s family, friends and colleagues.”
Dominic Raab, the justice secretary and deputy prime minister, tweeted: “Heartbroken that we have lost Sir David Amess MP. A great common-sense politician and a formidable campaigner with a big heart, and tremendous generosity of spirit – including towards those he disagreed with. RIP my friend.”
The health secretary, Sajid Javid, said he was devastated at the news. “A great man, a great friend and a great MP killed while fulfilling his democratic role. My heart goes out to Julia, his family, and all who loved him. Let us remember him and what he did with his life.”
Labour’s Lisa Nandy, the shadow foreign secretary, said she was finding it difficult to comprehend the news. She said: “Sending all my love to David’s family and friends. It’s unimaginable to think what they must be going through.”
Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat leader, called it “a truly terrible day for British politics”, while Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, said politicians were “united in sadness and shock”.
The Guardian understands that counter-terrorism police are assisting the investigation into the stabbing, which is being led by Essex police. Senior counter-terrorism officials are monitoring the situation closely and are being updated on emerging details of the attack and the suspect. Counter-terrorism police will usually stay involved in such an investigation until a non-terrorist motive is identified.
The incident will raise further concerns about the safety of MPs, who routinely hold advice surgeries to which anyone can turn up. In 2016, the Labour MP Cox was stabbed and shot dead by a far-right terrorist shortly before holding a surgery.
Brendan Cox, her widower, tweeted: “Attacking our elected representatives is an attack on democracy itself. There is no excuse, no justification. It is as cowardly as it gets.”
In 2010, another Labour MP, Stephen Timms, was stabbed twice at a constituency surgery by a student radicalised by online videos. In 2000, Andrew Pennington, an assistant to the Lib Dem MP Nigel Jones, was stabbed to death as he tried to protect Jones from an attacker who stormed his constituency office armed with a sword.
Amess was a well-known backbencher who during his 38 years in parliament campaigned on issues including animal rights. He was first elected in Basildon. He was married with five children.