On Friday the 29th November 2019, two University of Cambridge graduates were fatally stabbed by Usman Khan during a conference being held on Friday afternoon. This was hosted by Learning Together, which is a network of academics and criminal justice organisations.
The attack occurred at Fishmongers' Hall, on the north end of London Bridge. Both of the victims, Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones, worked for the organisation and were both extremely passionate about improving the criminal justice system. Both families of the victims made statements to the press. Jack Merritt's family said he was "looking forward to building a future with his girlfriend, Leanne, and making a career helping people in the criminal justice system”. Jones’ family stated that she “had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment program, wishing to specialise in victim support".
However, they were not the only victims of the attack, three others were injured. One of these victims has been able to return home but the other two are still in stable condition in hospital. A member of the University staff was among the three people injured.
As Khan launched his attack, staff at Fishmonger’s hall tackled him down before he was shot down by the police. Fishmonger Company chief executive Toby Williamson said staff who fought Khan as he launched his attack believed he was wearing a bomb.
What we know about the attacker
Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt were fatally stabbed by Usman Khan, 28, who had been released from jail on probation in 2018, half-way through a 16-year sentence for terrorism offences.
He had been convicted in 2012 after plotting with a group from Stoke-on-Trent, London and Cardiff. They discussed attacking the London Stock Exchange and pubs in Stoke, and setting up a jihadist training camp in Pakistan. He also had links to the banned organisation al-Muhajiroun.
One of the conditions of his release in 2018 was him having to wear an electronic tag. Afterwards, he worked for the government for the rehabilitation of people who had been involved in terrorism. After the attack on London Bridge his family have said they are "saddened and shocked" by what happened and "totally condemn his actions".
How has this affected politics?
Initially, after the attack, politicians promised to pause campaigning for some time even though the general elections are just a few weeks away. However, by Saturday, politicians were already changing their focus on improving security in the country.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson vowed he would impose tougher measures in crime and security if he were to be re-elected. He is also blaming the Labour Party for the law that allows serious offenders to be released from prison early.
However, the leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn has blamed the Conservative government as they have been in power since 2010. Johnson has also stated that “This country will never be cowed or divided or intimidated by this sort of attack and our values, our British values, will prevail.”
Family of victims are criticising conservative government aims to change the judicial system and for criminals to serve a longer sentence. They said “We know Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary,”
Victoria D, Year 12