Father of London Bridge victim hits out at ‘agenda of hate’

The father of London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt has said his son would be "livid" that his death is being used to further an "agenda of hate".

Cambridge University graduates Mr Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were both stabbed to death by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting in London on Friday.

American academic Bryonn Bain told the BBC that Mr Merritt was the first person to confront the knifeman, adding: "I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee."

Khan was released from prison on licence in December 2018, halfway through a 16-year prison sentence after he was convicted of terror offences in February 2012.

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London Bridge terror incident
Jack Merritt's mother Anne (far left), girlfriend Leanne O'Brien (centre) and father David (second right) during a vigil at the Guildhall in Cambridge to honour both him and Saskia Jones after the two of them were killed in Friday's London Bridge terror attack.
Jack Merrit's father (centre) attends a vigil at The Guildhall in Cambridge to honour both him and Saskia Jones after they were killed in Friday's London Bridge terror attack.
People at a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
(left to right) Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn take part in a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaking at a vigil in Guildhall Yard, London, to honour the victims off the London Bridge terror attack, as well as the members of the public and emergency services who risked their lives to help others after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Tributes to Cambridge University graduates Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, on London Bridge, who were both stabbed to death by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting in London on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Monday December 2, 2019. The father of London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt has said his son would be "livid" that his death is being used to further an "agenda of hate". See PA story POLICE LondonBridge . Photo credit should read: Rick Findler/PA Wire
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Second former Cambridge University student killed at London Bridge named
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A photograph of the first victim to be named, Jack Merritt, is pictured among floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. - Britain's Boris Johnson said on December 1 the security services were stepping up monitoring of convicted terrorists released early from prison, as the London Bridge attack became embroiled in the election campaign. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Police officers stand inside a cordon beside floral tributes left close to London Bridge in the City of London, on December 1, 2019, following the November 29 deadly terror incident. - Britain's Boris Johnson said on December 1 the security services were stepping up monitoring of convicted terrorists released early from prison, as the London Bridge attack became embroiled in the election campaign. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
Floral tributes for victims of the terrorist attack, including Jack Merritt, left on London Bridge in central London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday.
Floral tributes for victims of the terrorist attack, including Jack Merritt, left on London Bridge in central London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police on Friday. PA Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 1, 2019. See PA story POLICE LondonBridge. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic officers attend to a property in Lanehead Road, Stoke-on-Trent that is linked to London Bridge terrorist attacker Usman Khan.
Forensic personnel on London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu speaks to the media at New Scotland Yard in Westminster, London, after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick (centre left), Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (centre right) and Commissioner of the City of London Police, Ian Dyson (right) on London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, and was shot dead by police.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan speaks with Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick and Commissioner of the City of London Police Ian Dyson, as he attends London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson (left) and Home Secretary, Priti Patel (right) attend London Bridge in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Metropolitan Police Commissioner, Cressida Dick (left), Home Secretary, Priti Patel, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Commissioner of the City of London Police, Ian Dyson (right) attend the London Bridge crime scene in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson attends the London Bridge crime scene in central London after a terrorist wearing a fake suicide vest who went on a knife rampage killing two people, was shot dead by police.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People fleeing from Borough Market, central London following a police incident.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
A police officer moves an uninvolved person away from a cordon after an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People running away from Borough Market in London after police to them to leave the area.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People are evacuated from London Bridge in central London following a police incident.
A member of the police, outside a newsagent, in the vicinity of Borough Market and London Bridge.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from London Bridge and Borough Market, London.
An armed police officer outside Borough Market after an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from London Bridge and Borough Market, London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police instruct members of the public to move away from Borough Market, London.
Police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
People heading away from the vicinity of Borough Market in London after police told them to leave the area.
A white lorry parked across London bridge in central London following a 'terror related' incident.
A police boat on the River Thames near London bridge following a 'terror related' incident.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Gracechurch Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Office workers watching police near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Armed police and emergency services at the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
Police on Cannon Street in London near the scene of an incident on London Bridge in central London.
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The attack prompted the Ministry of Justice to review the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said was "probably about 74" people.

Mr Johnson has also vowed to take steps to ensure people are not released early when they commit serious offences.

The family of Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, asked for his death to not to be used to justify introducing "even more draconian sentences" on offenders in a heartfelt tribute released on Sunday.

And in a tweet on Sunday evening referring to coverage of the attack, his father David said: "Don't use my son's death, and his and his colleague's photos – to promote your vile propaganda.

Incident on London Bridge
Leanne O'Brien is comforted by family members (Joe Giddens/PA)

"Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance."

Writing for the Guardian on Monday, he said his son would be "livid" if he could comment on his death.

"He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against," he said.

"We should never forget that. What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens.

Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stand together at a London vigil
Sadiq Khan, Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stand together at a London vigil (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

"That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key.

"Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise.

"Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge.

"Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation.

"Jack believed in the inherent goodness of humanity, and felt a deep social responsibility to protect that. Through us all, Jack marches on."

His father's comments came after Mr Merritt's girlfriend broke down in tears as she attended a vigil in his memory in Cambridge earlier on Monday.

Leanne O'Brien wept and clutched a cuddly toy as she was supported by family and friends at the event, which also honoured Miss Jones.

The Cambridge vigil took place as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stood side by side to pay their respects at a separate event at Guildhall Yard in London, observing a minute's silence alongside members of the public.

Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones
Jack Merritt and (right) Saskia Jones (Metropolitan Police/PA)

They were joined by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who called for people to come together following the killings and work for a future "not defined by hatred but defined by hope, unity and love".

The vigils took place as West Midlands Police said a 34-year-old man arrested in Stoke-on-Trent on suspicion of preparation of terrorist acts had been recalled to prison due to a breach of his licence conditions.

He has been named in reports as Nazam Hussain, who was jailed with Usman in 2012 for terrorism offences, and like Usman had been released early on licence after successfully appealing against his original indeterminate sentence.

Officers from the West Midlands Counter Terrorism Unit held him after a search of his home on Saturday.

The force has said there is no information to suggest he was involved in Khan's attack at London Bridge.

Officers have been searching a home in Lindley Street, Stoke, on Monday, as part of the West Midlands Counter Terrorism investigation.

A resident, who did not wish to be named, told the PA news agency: "I saw the man who lived there on the first day he arrived.

"He's been there two months. He had a prison bag with him on the day he arrived and he met with two CID, so I knew it was something serious.

"The police have certainly been there since yesterday, possibly before."

Khan, from Stoke, was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he launched the attack, which injured three others, after he was invited to the prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday afternoon.

The knifeman, who was living in Stafford, was given permission to travel into the heart of London by police and the Probation Service.

Armed with two knives and wearing a fake suicide vest, he was tackled by members of the public, including ex-offenders from the conference, before he was shot dead by police.

London Bridge terror attack.
(PA Graphics)

One of the three people injured in the attack has been allowed to return home while the other two remain in a stable condition in hospital.The event was organised by Learning Together, a programme associated with Cambridge University's Institute of Criminology.

Mr Merritt's father said his son "devoted his energy" to the programme, adding: "He lived and breathed fire in his pursuit of a better world for all humanity, particularly those most in need."

Miss Jones, a volunteer with Learning Together from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was described as having a "great passion" for providing support to victims of crime by her family.

In a statement they said: "She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.

"Saskia 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 programme, wishing to specialise in victim support."

London Bridge was reopened on Monday, while a police cordon remains in place on the west footpath near Fishmongers' Hall.

No-one else is being sought over the attack.

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