Conservative MP Sir David Amess has been murdered today after being stabbed ‘multiple times’ by a 25-year-old killer who sprinted into a church and knifed him to death during his weekly constituency surgery.
The Tory MP for Southend West, 69, was meeting locals at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, when his attacker ran into the building wielding a knife before attacking the veteran politician at just after midday.
Paramedics worked to save the politician on the floor of a Essex church for more than an hour but he could not be saved after the appalling attack with chilling similarities to the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox, who was shot and stabbed multiple times outside her constituency surgery at a local library in Birstall, West Yorkshire, in June 2016 by a right-wing terrorist.
Sir David, a married father-of-five whose wife Julia is also his part-time caseworker, is the sixth MP to be murdered since the Second World War, and the ninth in history. It is not know if Mrs Amess was at the church when her husband was murdered.
Horrified constituents waiting to see the veteran MP, an ardent Brexiteer and royalist, watched in horror as the knifeman stabbed him, calling the police at 12.05pm. Police confirmed Sir David’s death at around 3pm. Counter-terrorism officers and armed units are at the scene.
One woman ran out of the church in the chaos yelling down the phone after dialling 999, telling the call handler: ‘Someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing’. Essex Police held the attacker at the scene and seized a weapon. He is now in custody and arrested on suspicion of murder.
Sir David, a Brexiteer veteran MP who has voted against gay marriage and abortion, was seen laughing and speaking to people on the steps of the church just 15 minutes before he was knifed.
‘We could see a police cordon set up… (someone outside) told me a woman had come out screaming on the phone, saying ‘someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing’,’ the 40-year-old told PA.
‘There was a lot of talk at the church that it was (Sir David) and plenty of people had seen him outside saying hello to people outside the church 20 minutes before. It’s very shocking’.
Poignantly, Sir David wrote last year about the importance of meeting constituents despite what had happened to Jo Cox. He wrote: ‘She was a young woman with a family going about her duties, as we all do, completely unaware of the threat that she faced. While it is often said that good can come out of someone’s death, it is difficult to see what good can come from this senseless murder’. He also admitted he had been threatened at his home in the past and had to add additional security to his property.
It is expected MPs will now push for police to be present at all of their surgeries meeting the public after this latest outrage against democracy.
Sir Lindsay Hoyle, Speaker of the House of Commons, said: ‘I am shocked and deeply distressed by the killing of Sir David Amess. ‘David was a lovely man, devoted to his family, to Parliament and his Southend West constituency. He was well-liked by Members and the staff alike, and during his almost four decades here, built a reputation for kindness and generosity.
‘This is an incident that will send shockwaves 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.’
Carrie Johnson had led the tributes to the MP today, tweeting: ‘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’.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps described Sir David Amess as ‘a true parliamentarian’. He tweeted: ‘Awful, tragic news about David. A dedicated, thoughtful man and a true Parliamentarian, who lost his life while serving the constituents who he worked relentlessly for throughout his career. My thoughts are with his family and friends at this time.’
Judith Cannon, deputy chair of the local Conservative club and friend of the MP, said: ‘I just don’t believe it, how anyone could harm a kind man like David, I don’t know. I cannot understand how anyone could be so wicked to harm this man’.
Brendan Cox, the husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, tweeted after the death: ‘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’.
MP Sir David Amess has been murdered at his constituency surgery in Leigh. The Tory MP for Southend West, 69, was holding a surgery at the Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North. Sir David pictured outside his surgery earlier this month
Armed police swamped the Belfairs Methodist Church as the MP was being treated for his wounds on the floor inside. Tragically he couldn’t be saved and was pronounced dead at around 3pm
Police officers attend following the stabbing of UK Conservative MP Sir David Amess as he met with constituents at a constituency surgery
Police have sealed off the area as Sir David became the sixth MP to be murdered in recent times and the first since the death of Jo Cox in 2016
Police and paramedics are said to have treated his wounds for more than an hour before he passed away
The Union flags above Downing Street have been lowered to half mast after Conservative MP Sir David Amess was murdered
Sir David’s most recent Twitter post alerted constituents that he was holding a surgery at the location he was attacked by a 25-year-old man
Police were still on the scene hours after the attack happened collecting evidence on what happened at the stabbing, which witnesses said happened
Armed police at the scene after the stabbing happened next to an A-board advertising the MP was in the building. The suspect was held at the scene and his knife seized
An air ambulance was rushed to the scene, landing in a field behind the church. Tragically it wasn’t needed, as Sir David died at the scene of the stabbing
Armed police at the scene outside Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea where MP David Amess was stabbed to death. Counter-terrrorism officers are also there
Police officers were seen speaking to potential witnesses after the shocking violence unfolded in broad daylight
David Amess, the Tory veteran first elected in Thatcher’s 1983 landslide who fought for Brexit and campaigned to ban fox-hunting
David Amess and wife Julia, with their fourth child, baby daughter Alexandra. They are pictured with two of their other children, David and Katherine
David Amess was one of the longest-serving MPs on the Tory benches, having first been elected in Margaret Thatcher’s 1983 landslide.
The married father-of-five was known as a staunch right-winger, having been a Eurosceptic for years before the referendum campaign.
The 69-year-old has been an opponent of same-sex marriage and anti-abortion, but also took some less traditional Conservative positions – including campaigning against fox-hunting.
Despite his true-blue credentials he was popular across the political divide, known as a family man and a hard-working constituency MP.
One of his four daughters with wife Julia, Katie, is an actress and model who was named Miss Essex in 2008.
Sir David also came to public attention in 1997 when he was tricked into condemning a made up drug called ‘Cake’ on the satirical TV programme Brass Eye.
The MP had never been a minister during his near-four decade stint in parliament, although he was briefly a ministerial aide.
However, he held a number of important behind-the-scenes roles – which were rewarded when he was knighted in 2015 for political and public service.
Sir David pictured with his pet Vivienne when they entered the Westminster Dog of the Year competition
Sir David was a member of the Health Committee, and also served on the Administration Committee – which oversees the Parliamentary facilities such as catering.
He wa currently on the ‘Panel of Chairs’ at the Commons, making him one of the senior MPs who fill in for Speaker Lindsay Hoyle chairing debates.
Sir David was educated at a grammar school in London and then Bournemouth University, before becoming a recruitment consultant.
He contested and won Basildon for the Tories in 1983, when Mrs Thatcher trounced Michael Foot to secure an 144 majority.
However, when the seat was redrawn in 1997 he saw it would inevitably be taken by Labour, and was selected for Southend West.
He still holds the seat with a majority of more than 14,000.
Councillor John Lamb, who was at the scene where Conservative MP Sir David Amess was stabbed, described him as an ‘amicable’ family man.
He said he got the call about the ‘dreadful’ attack just after midday and rushed to the Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, but that the surrounding roads had already been cordoned off by police.
Mr Lamb said the MP had not been taken to hospital, but that there were two ambulances at the scene and ‘they’ve been working on him all that time here’. He’s a family man, he’s got four daughters and a son,’ he told the PA news agency.
‘He’s always trying to help people and especially refugees he’s tried to help. He’s a very amicable person and he does stick by his guns, he says what he believes and he sticks by it.’
Conservative MP and former Cabinet minister David Davis tweeted: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends and staff of Sir David Amess.
‘He was a thoroughly kind and decent man who above all else cared strongly for his constituents and worked hard for them over his distinguished career. We have all lost a good friend.’
Health Secretary Sajid Javid tweeted: ‘Devastated to learn of Sir David Amess’ murder. 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.’
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Brandon Lewis described Sir David Amess as ‘one of life’s truly nice people’.
He tweeted: ‘I knew David both from my days as a councillor in Essex and as a fellow MP.
‘One of life’s truly nice people, a gentleman, who was always ready to give his help to anyone who needed it.
‘So shocked and saddened by this awful news. My thoughts are with his family and loved ones.’
Communities Secretary Michael Gove tweeted: ‘David Amess’s passing is heart-breakingly sad. Just terrible, terrible news.
‘He was a good and gentle man, he showed charity and compassion to all, his every word and act were marked by kindness. My heart goes out to his family.’
One person posted online: ‘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.’
It is believed Sir David has been receiving treatment at the scene for his injuries.
Earlier this year he spoke out about anti-social behaviour and knife crime.
He was a firm supporter of Brexit and the Leave Means Leave campaign.
Sir David opposed bills furthering LGBT rights, including equal age of consent and same-sex marriage.
He said present strategies were not working and said there needed to be more preventative measures.
His last message on Twitter alerted constituents he was holding a surgery told and the location of where it was being held.
Essex Police said: ‘We were called to reports of a stabbing in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea shortly after 12.05pm today.
‘Officers were on scene shortly after, arrested a man and recovered a knife. He is currently in custody.
‘We are not looking for anyone else in connection with the incident and do not believe there is an ongoing threat to the wider public.
‘We want to thank the public who alerted us to the incident so quickly.
‘We need anyone who saw anything or has CCTV, dash cam or doorbell footage to contact us.’
Sir David was selected to contest the Basildon seat and was elected as an MP June 9, 1983.
East Ham MP Stephen Timms, who was stabbed at a constituency surgery in 2010, know him well and am thinking of him with very best wishes as we await further news.’
London Mayor Sadiq Khan tweeted: ‘Truly awful news. My thoughts and prayers are with David Amess MP, his family, staff and the community at this incredibly difficult time.’
There has been an outpouring of grief from MPs at the murder of Sir David Amess
An ambulance is driven through the police corden after the death of the Tory MP in Leigh-on-Sea, Essex
The scene near Belfairs Methodist Church, in Eastwood Road North where MP Sir David Amess was stabbed
Sir David, a married father-of-five whose wife Julia is also his part-time caseworker, is the sixth MP to be murdered since the Second World War, and the ninth in history.
One woman ran out of the church in the chaos yelling down the phone after dialling 999, telling the call handler: ‘Someone’s been stabbed, please get here soon, he’s not breathing’. Essex Police held the attacker at the scene and seized a weapon. He is now in custody and arrested on suspicion of murder
What security do MPs have in their constituencies?
Even before the murder of Jo Cox in 2016 concern was growing over the threat to MPs away from Parliament.
The improvements were championed by Sir Lindsay Hoyle as deputy Speaker, and he has continued the drive since taking over as Speaker.
Every politician is now thought to have had a security assessment in the constituency, and they get a ‘standard’ package such as alarm systems, shutters, CCTV and personal alarms for staff.
If the police deem it necessary MPs can also access ‘enhanced’ measures.
The authorities do not specify what that can include, but it is thought to include secure transport and guards.
The costs are met through a central contract with Chubb, organised by the Commons.
However, there are concerns that most of the measures are applied to offices and homes, while surgeries often happen at churches or other buildings that might not be secure.
Complaints have also been growing about a postcode lottery for MPs, with some police forces offering more support than others.
One witness called the incident ‘very distressing’ and described seeing someone being taken out of the building and put into the back of a police car, before he was asked to leave the area.
‘At that point obviously we knew something serious had happened,’ he told LBC.
‘Within five minutes we’d been informed by someone who was actually in the building what had happened and apparently he (Sir David Amess) had been stabbed quite a few times. It’s very distressing that’s for sure.’
He added: ‘It’s a nice area… it’s not something that you’d see happening round this area that’s for sure.
‘It’s just a residential street with a Methodist church on the road and you don’t often hear of things like this going on down this way.
‘To have it next door to where you’re working is obviously very upsetting and very unlike what it’s like round here. It’s very odd and it’s very distressing, that’s for sure.’
A spokesman for Sir David’s office in Westminster said: ‘The incident has happened. I don’t know what the incident is. We are still waiting.’
An employee of Jean’s Laundry, near Belfair’s Methodist Church, said she did not know anything about the situation but had seen emergency service vehicles go by.
‘We just saw all the police and the ambulances turning up, it was probably about half past 12 or just before then,’ she told the PA news agency.
‘I saw about two or three ambulances and then an undercover police car and other police cars going past.
‘There’s usually people walking past, elderly people walking to the shops. We’ve still got no idea what’s going on, we’re not very busy on a Friday and no one has come in to talk to us about it.’
Media opportunities to film the start of a Cabinet meeting on Friday have been cancelled, as was a planned interview with Prime Minister Boris Johnson, which was due to take place afterwards.
It is unclear whether the Cabinet meeting is going ahead.
Sir David Amess was pleased to attend an event in Parliament yesterday to support #OnePunchAwarenessWeek
Pictures showed that police have cordoned off the scene in the aftermath of the attack and said they had arrested one man
ATTACKED ON THE JOB: TRAGIC MPs KILLED AND INJURED WHILE IN OFFICE
Conservative MP Sir David Amess was stabbed ‘multiple times’ during a constituency surgery today.
The attack on him was the 10th time an MP has been killed or attacked.
Today’s attack follows the brutal shooting and stabbing of Jo Cox in 2016. She was the first time a sitting MP has been killed in more than 20 years.
The Labour MP for Batley and Spen was shot and stabbed multiple times in the street in the village of Birstall by far-right activist Thomas Mair. She had been due to hold a constituency surgery
Jo Cox was the first MP killed in more than 20 years after she was stabbed and shot to death in 2016
Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, left, MP for Enfield Southgate Sir Anthony Berry, centre, were both killed while in office
In 1990, Eastbourne MP Ian Gow, a former private parliamentary secretary to Margaret Thatcher, was killed by an IRA car bomb at his Sussex home at the age of 53.
Before him, the MP for Enfield Southgate Sir Anthony Berry died in the IRA bombing of Brighton’s Grand Hotel, where Mrs Thatcher was staying for the 1984 Conservative Party conference.
The IRA also claimed the life of Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford, who was shot dead aged 40 while holding a constituency surgery in a Belfast community centre in 1981.
And the Irish National Liberation Army claimed responsibility for the murder of former Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave, whose car was blown up as he drove out of the parliamentary car park at Westminster in 1979. In 1922, Field Marshall Sir Henry Hughes Wilson was killed in an IRA attack.
A number of MPs have also been attacked while holding public surgeries.
Ulster Unionist Party MP Robert Bradford (left) was killed and former Northern Ireland secretary Airey Neave (right) was killed after his car was blown up as he drove out of the parliamentary car park at Westminster in 1979
Former Labour Cabinet minister Stephen Timms (left) was stabbed twice by a student who had booked an appointment to see him in east London in 2010. Baron Jones of Cheltenham, right, was attacked by Robert Ashman with a samurai sword in January 2000
Former Labour Cabinet minister Stephen Timms was stabbed twice by a student who had booked an appointment to see him in east London in 2010.
Roshonara Choudhry was jailed for life for stabbing East Ham MP Stephen Timms in his constituency surgery in May 2010.
And in 2000, former Liberal Democrat MP Nigel Jones, now a peer, came under attack by a man wielding a samurai sword, with the politician’s aide Andrew Pennington killed while trying to protect him.
In January 2000, deranged Robert Ashman attacked Baron Jones as he conducted a surgery in his Cheltenham constituency.
Ashman seriously injured Baron Jones and stabbed to death his aide Mr Pennington as he tried to protect him. Pennington, 39, tried to fight off the attacker with an electric fire.
‘Praying for another MP just carrying out his job’: Shocked politicians say MPs ‘should be able to do their job without fear’ as Sir David Amess becomes 10th to be attacked while in office
There are fresh fears for MPs’ safety after Conservative MP Sir David Amess was stabbed at a constituency surgery this afternoon.
The MP for Southend West, 69, was stabbed ‘multiple times’ by a man as he spoke to constituents at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
MPs from across Parliament quickly sent their best wishes to Sir David whose condition is unknown.
Several also called for greater security for politicians after the attack, which follows the murder of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016.
Conservative MP and former party leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith said he is ‘very worried’ to have heard Sir David Amess was stabbed ‘a number of times, not just once’.
He told the BBC News channel: ‘Obviously at the moment right now all I can think of are prayers for him and his family, him for a safe recovery, and them for the most terrible emotions they must be going through.
‘The reality for us is that we see constituents all the time, both in their houses and in surgeries. We’re out and about, we’re always available, we must be available, it’s the most critical bit of what makes the British parliamentary system I think one of the most accessible in the world, and that’s because we want it that way.
‘We don’t want to be cowed or frightened into doing something different, and I certainly won’t, and I know my colleagues will feel the same.
‘So I hope this is resolved very, very quickly, as I say, but we will certainly want to continue the way that we do things.
‘Of course there may be some other elements that may be added to it, but notwithstanding that I want my constituents to have full access and I’m sure David would have felt the same.’
East Ham MP Stephen Timms, who was stabbed at a constituency surgery in 2010, wrote on Twitter: ‘Appalled to hear of the attack on @amessd-southend today. I know him well and am thinking of him with very best wishes as we await further news.’
Former prime minister David Cameron tweeted: ‘Very alarming and worrying news reports coming from Leigh-on-Sea. My thoughts and prayers are with Sir David Amess and his family.’