David Amess: BBC viewers give feedback on murder coverage
In a statement read by close friend and former MP Ann Widdecombe, Sir David’s family said: “Please let some good come from this tragedy.” The veteran Tory MP, 69, was stabbed to death at one of his constituency surgeries on October 15. A man has been charged with his murder. Draped in the Union Flag, Sir David’s coffin was applauded by crowds as it was carried through Southend, Essex, in a horse-drawn carriage, after the funeral service.
Mourners packed St Mary’s Church, Prittlewell, for the service where fellow MP Mark Francois described his best friend as the “embodiment” of all Parliament’s strengths. And in a moving statement read by Ms Widdecombe, Sir David’s family praised him as a “strong and courageous” MP, “a patriot and man of peace”.
His widow Lady Julia and their five children said: “We ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all because that is the only way forward.
“We must set aside hatred and work towards togetherness. We must be tolerant and try to understand.
“As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way.”
They added: “We are absolutely broken but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.”
Mr Francois, Conservative MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, Essex, told the congregation how politicians work for electors not the other way round.
David Amess’s coffin was applauded by crowds
“No one was ever more conscious of that than David Amess,” he said. “Whatever one thinks of members of Parliament, and opinions do vary, in my experience MPs of all parties do genuinely try and help other people.
“However, collectively in recent years we have perhaps not always helped ourselves, and I humbly suggest today that we need to learn from that.
“But, boy, did David Amess honour the contract with his employers – and in his own inimitable style.”
Despite the awful tragedy of his friend’s death, he said the country should “keep calm and carry on” as that is “what he would have wanted us to do”.
Sir David had long campaigned for Southend to be made a city – a status that will now be conferred on the seaside town in a tribute to him. Mr Francois said his fellow Essex MP had “won in the end”.
After the service, pall bearers carried Sir David’s coffin to a hearse, drawn by four horses, for a procession through Southend.
The funeral procession makes its way to Southend Council Civic Centre
Applause echoed around the streets as the carriage paused in front of the Civic Centre.
Uniformed police officers, standing as a guard of honour, bowed their heads as the hearse arrived.
The carriage paused again outside Iveagh Hall in Leigh-on-Sea, the MP’s constituency office. Crowds standing on the pavement applauded and then fell silent as they paid their respects.
The final stop was a chapel of rest where devout catholic Sir David’s coffin remained until a requiem mass being held today in his honour at Westminster Cathedral, where a message from the Pope was due to be read out.
Earlier, Boris Johnson told how several members of his Cabinet broke down in tears when they learnt of Sir David’s death.
The Prime Minister said he and colleagues were in the middle of a Cabinet away day in Bristol when news of the tragedy broke.
Mr Johnson revealed: “Every-body was absolutely devastated. We were all sitting around. I then got called out and got given the news.
“I had to go back in to tell Cabinet colleagues, many of whom had known David for decades, and I’m afraid several colleagues broke down in tears because it was just an appalling piece of news. I think we were also very shaken by the implications of what had happened, and the fact his life had been tragically ended in the way that it was.”
Paying tribute to Sir David, Mr Johnson said: “I think he inspired feelings of affection, love and admiration for the causes he espoused. I’ve spoken to members of his family and they’ve had a very tough time, as you can imagine.”
Security around MPs has been stepped up since Sir David’s death.
But Mr Johnson said the veteran backbencher would not want anything to impede the vital relationship between politician and voter.
Sir David was first elected in 1983 serving as MP for Basildon, Essex, until 1997 when he became MP for Southend West.
His family have urged people to support the “many charities he worked with” and to help raise funds for a memorial to forces sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn. Sir David had said Dame Vera “epitomised the strength and courage of our nation”.