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No security concerns about Sir David’s church meeting, police boss says

The veteran Conservative MP was determined to be ‘as accessible as possible’ in the community after Covid restrictions were lifted.

11 April 2022

Sir David Amess had no known security concerns about meeting voters in community locations before his death, a police boss said.

The murder of fellow MP Jo Cox in 2016 prompted many politicians, including Sir David, to hold meetings in locations with security measures in place.

But the Old Bailey murder trial heard there was no physical police or security guard presence at Belfairs Methodist Church on October 15 2021, when Ali Harbi Ali tricked staff into booking him an appointment with the veteran MP, before stabbing him more than 20 times with a knife.

The veteran Southend West MP had insisted on holding constituency surgeries in the community after the coronavirus lockdown measures were lifted in order to be “as accessible as possible”.

Sir David Amess death
Sir David Amess with his pugs Lily and Boat (Geoff Caddick/PA)

Essex Police Chief Superintendent Simon Anslow, who had known Sir David for many years, told the PA news agency: “There was nothing about that particular event to give us any cause for concern at all.

“It’s a real tragedy how it transpired.”

He added: “He (Sir David) never spoke to me about any concerns at all.”

Prosecutor Tom Little QC told jurors that Sir David expressed concern “the public had not seen him during the Covid pandemic” and had “a strong desire to get out into his community and be as accessible as possible”.

As a result, many constituency surgeries were held in churches across his constituency, the location of which was usually advertised on Twitter a few days in advance.

The trial heard how Ali emailed Sir David’s office under the pretence of being a healthcare worker moving to the area.

He later told police: “That’s how easy it was to sort of get to him.”

The attack prompted a joint letter to MPs from Home Secretary Priti Patel and Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle, offering them a security guard for their constituency surgeries amid the potential threat from a “small minority of hostile individuals”.

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