A man has been charged with the terrorism-related murder of MP Sir David Amess.
Ali Harbi Ali, 25, from London, has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism, the Crown Prosecution Service said. The Conservative MP died after being stabbed multiple times at a meeting with his constituents in Essex.
The 69-year-old, who has been an MP since 1983, was attacked at around midday on Friday 15 October.
Essex Police confirmed that the man was arrested shortly after the stabbing was reported to authorities.
The father-of-five is the second sitting MP to be killed in such circumstances in five years, following the death of Labour MP Jo Cox in 2016 as she attended a constituency surgery.
Harbi Ali appeared at Westminster Magistrates’ Court today and was remanded in custody. Nick Price, of the CPS, said: “We will submit to the court that this murder has a terrorist connection, namely that it had both religious and ideological motivations.
“He has also been charged with the preparation of terrorist acts. This follows a review of the evidence gathered by the Metropolitan Police in its investigation.
“The CPS reminds all concerned that criminal proceedings against Mr Ali are active and that he has the right to a fair trial.”
Where and when did the attack take place?
Amess was attacked shortly after midday on Friday 15 October at a constituency surgery in Southend West.
The incident occurred around at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea.
What else do we know about the attack?
Amess is said to have been stabbed several times.
He received treatment at the scene while an air ambulance was said to have been waiting nearby.
But an update shared by Essex Police just before 3pm on Friday confirmed that a man had died on the scene.
A knife was also recovered.
Witnesses described the scene as “very distressing”.
An employee of a launderette near the church said: “We just saw all the police and the ambulances turning up, it was probably about half-past 12 or just before then.
“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.”
Speaking to LBC Radio, witness Anthony Finch said: “At that point obviously we knew something serious had happened. 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.”
He added: “It’s very odd and it’s very distressing, that’s for sure.”
And what about the suspect?
Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack.
On Saturday, detectives were granted a warrant by magistrates to allow them to keep the suspect in custody until Friday 22 October. Police searched three addresses in the London area.
On Thursday, the CPS announced that Ali Harbi Ali, 25, from London, has been charged with murder and preparing acts of terrorism. He appeared in court shortly afterwards and spoke only to confirm his identity, before being remanded in custody.
How have people reacted?
In a statement shared on Facebook, the police thanked the public “who alerted us to the incident so quickly.”
The Jo Cox Foundation, which was set up in memory of the Labour MP who was murdered by a terrorist in 2016, said they were “horrified” by the news and were “thinking of him, his family and loved ones at this distressing time.”
Jo’s husband, Brendan Cox, said the incident “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.”
The Jo Cox Foundation is horrified to hear the news of the attack on Sir David Amess MP. We are thinking of him, hi… https://t.co/ayqUuhVNtX
— The Jo Cox Foundation (@The Jo Cox Foundation)
My thoughts and love are with David’s family. They are all that matter now. This brings everything back. The pain,… https://t.co/bFdclvBP0j
“While people in public life must remain open to legitimate criticism, they can no longer be vilified or their families subject to the most horrendous abuse, especially from people who hide behind a cloak of anonymity with the connivance of the social media companies for profit”.
Who was David Amess and how long was he an MP for?
Amess served as an MP for 38 years, initially in Basildon from 1983 before he took on his role representing Southend West from 1997.
The 69-year-old received a knighthood in 2015 for his political and public service.
The MP regarded his main interests and areas of expertise as “animal welfare and pro-life” issues. But his campaigning efforts in the House of Commons in recent years were most closely associated with the Essex coastal town.
Amess called for Southend to be awarded city status during his time in parliament. This has now been granted in honour of his death. After his death, MPs also called for his dog to be named ‘dog of the year’ in tribute.