The UK’s most senior counter-terrorism officer has apologised to the families of those killed in the Fishmongers’ Hall attack in the wake of damning inquest jury conclusions.
Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner Neil Basu said he is “deeply sorry” for the omissions and failures that meant opportunities to stop convicted terrorist Usman Khan were missed.
On Friday, a jury found “unacceptable management and lack of accountability” among the agencies responsible for Khan, coupled with insufficient experience and training, had left him free to carry out his attack.
It said agencies had been “blind” to the risk posed by Khan, who had been released from an eight-year jail sentence for offences including plotting a bomb attack on London just 11 months before he killed Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt in the attack in November 2019.
Mr Basu, the National Police Chiefs’ Council lead for counter-terrorism, said: “The fact that, as the jury determined, there were omissions or failures in the management of the attacker, and in the sharing of information and guidance by the agencies responsible, is simply unacceptable and I am so deeply sorry we weren’t better than this in November 2019.”
He said that since the attack, the systems for managing violent offenders in the community have been “significantly strengthened”, adding “we in policing have developed a far stronger national offender management model”.
Mr Basu continued: “Even with the new changes in place, it remains true that managing the risk posed by terrorist offenders is an incredibly challenging job for all the agencies involved and the stark reality is that we can never guarantee that we will stop every attack, but I promise that we will do everything we can to try.”
He said the fact the jury concluded Ms Jones and Mr Merritt were unlawfully killed proves the “ultimate responsibility” for their deaths lay with Khan himself.
“The jury has today concluded that Jack and Saskia were unlawfully killed, and this reflects the fact that whilst we, along with our partners, must improve, the ultimate responsibility for this barbaric act lies with the attacker.
“He deceived and betrayed almost everyone he spoke to. He lied. He alone chose to attack and murder some of the very people who were trying to help him – help him have the opportunity to live a better life.
“(Jack and Saskia) had both chosen to do something good with their lives, to make tremendously positive contributions to our society.
“And it is precisely our precious society, and the incredibly humane and beautiful people in it, like Jack and Saskia, that terrorists want to destroy.
“As I said, will never cease trying to stop them and collectively, all of us will stop that happening by standing together against the evil of terrorism, and its perverse ideologies.
“I promise those of us who work in counter-terrorism will constantly seek to be the best we possibly can for the public – the incredibly brave public who helped us in November 2019 – and I know the public will help us again.”