An alleged terrorist accused of fatally stabbing Sir David Amess has appeared at the Old Bailey to deny murdering him.
Charged Ali Harbi Ali appeared in court
Ali Harbi Ali is charged with killing the Conservative MP for Southend West during a constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex.
The 25-year-old is also charged with preparing acts of terrorism between May 1 2019 and September 28 this year.
On the morning of October 15, Ali is alleged to travelled by train from his home in Kentish Town, north London.
He would go on to attend Sir David’s surgery at Belfairs Methodist Church, it is claimed.
During the meeting, he allegedly stabbed Sir David.
The veteran MP was pronounced dead at the scene at 1.10pm.
Wearing a light blue jumper over a plain grey tracksuit with black glasses and a black facemask, Ali, of Lady Somerset Road, Kentish Town, spoke only to deny the charges when he appeared at the Old Bailey in person.
He stood with his arms cross as the court rose at the end of the hearing.
Police and ambulance crews rushed to the church after Sir David was stabbed in October
Sir David Amess, MP for Southend West, was killed at a constituency surgery back in October
Senior Judge Mr Justice Sweeney has already identified a provisional trial date of March 7 next year.
Sir David’s death during his weekly constituency surgery has shocked Britain and is likely to change the way MPs are protected and meet voters forever.
His family said their hearts had been ‘shattered’ by his ‘cruel and violent death’ at a constituency surgery in Essex.
Forensic officers at the scene near the Belfairs Methodist Church in Eastwood Road North, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex on the day of the murder
People look at flowers left by the police cordon nearby the Belfairs Methodist Church
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer join Home Secretary Priti Patel and the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle as they pay their respects to Sir David
They said they could not understand why the ‘patriot and a man of peace’ was targeted by a knifeman he had never met.
The 69-year-old father of five was ambushed at his Friday meeting with the public and stabbed 17 times in a frenzied attack. In a heartbreaking statement his family called for people to ‘set aside hatred’, adding: ‘Nobody should die in that way. Nobody.
‘Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, be tolerant and try to understand.
‘We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.’
The Home Office scheme, which has an annual budget of around £40million, has been under scrutiny for years after a series of terrorists slipped through its net, including Reading attacker Khairi Saadallah.
But the independent review did not start formally until earlier this year and has still not reported back to Miss Patel.
Former justice secretary Robert Buckland called for a shake-up of Prevent to ensure a more ‘joined-up’ approach. He said more co-operation between schools, the NHS and other public agencies was required to ensure security forces could intervene early.
Police officers erect a tent outside a house in north London, thought to be in relation to the death of Sir David
‘Nobody should die in that way. Nobody’: Family of murdered MP Sir David Amess say ‘our hearts are shattered’ – but urge people to ‘show love to all’ and support causes he championed in his memory so ‘some good can come from this tragedy’
The devastated family of Conservative MP Sir David Amess said they are ‘absolutely broken’ by his killing, adding in an emotional statement: ‘As a family, we are trying to understand why this awful thing has occurred. Nobody should die in that way.’
In a statement released through the Metropolitan Police, Sir David’s family said: ‘The family would like to thank everyone for the wonderful, wonderful tributes paid to David following his cruel and violent death. It truly has brought us so much comfort. The support shown by friends, constituents and the general public alike has been so overwhelming. As a family it has given us strength.
‘We have realised from tributes paid that there was far, far more to David than even we, those closest to him, knew. We are enormously proud of him. Our hearts are shattered. However, there was still so much David wanted to do – this we know from the events of the last few days. So, this is not the end of Sir David Amess MP. It is the next chapter and as a family we ask everyone to support the many charities he worked with. There are so many to mention, so find one close to your hearts and help.
‘David had recently joined a campaign to help raise funds for a memorial to Dame Vera Lynn. To him she epitomised the strength and courage of our nation. We would ask as many people as possible to support this and meet the target to complete the project.
‘Closer to home, David was working hard for Southend to gain city status. In his memory, please show your support for this campaign. Strong and courageous is an appropriate way to describe David. He was a patriot and a man of peace. So, we ask people to set aside their differences and show kindness and love to all. This is the only way forward. Set aside hatred and work towards togetherness.
‘Whatever one’s race, religious or political beliefs, 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. Nobody. Please let some good come from this tragedy. We are absolutely broken, but we will survive and carry on for the sake of a wonderful and inspiring man.
‘We ask at this time that the family’s privacy be respected so that we can grieve in private.’
‘I very much hope that when it comes to community supervision and community involvement, that it is much more joined-up between health services, education,’ he told Times Radio.
‘And that element of being joined-up is what we really need to work on urgently.’
He added: ‘There may be records or information from schools or colleges or from the health service which can tell us much more about individuals and their activities. We need to join this up much more effectively because what we’re talking about here is community prevention.
‘We’ve got to make sure that every arm of the state is absolutely working together in order to understand as much as possible about these individuals, and then to intervene if we judge the risk to be so significant that an intervention could prevent the sort of appalling incident that we saw not just last week but also in the Jo Cox case and other examples.’
Mrs Cox, the Labour MP for Batley and Spen, was murdered by a far-Right fanatic in the street in 2016 as she was about to carry out a constituency surgery.
A Tory former Defence Minister doubled-down on his call for a temporary suspension of public meetings between MPs and their constituents, as he warned ‘there could be a copycat-style attack’ following the killing of Sir David.
Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the Commons Defence Select Committee, urged a ‘pause in face-to-face’ consultations between parliamentarians and members of the public until a safety review had been completed in the wake of Sir David’s death on Friday.
His proposal was shot down by defiant Conservatives including former Cabinet minister David Davis. Labour’s Harriet Harman called for an official review of MPs’ safety, while ex-Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott also rallied against ‘airport-style screening’ – but told the BBC she would support meeting constituents behind a screen to prevent possible stab attacks.
Miss Patel insisted MPs must keep meeting voters, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show it would be ‘unacceptable’ for the killing to ‘break the link between an elected representative and their democratic role, responsibility and duty to the people who elected them’.
However, the killing of Sir David at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea as he met with Southend West constituents has prompted the Government to look at ensuring every MP gets police on guard at their weekly surgeries – a move backed by Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle.
Speaking to Channel 4, Mr Ellwood doubled-down on his proposal, warning: ‘Ultimately we have to recognise that there could be a copycat-style attack.
The police have already made that clear. Let’s make sure that our lifestyles and the way we go about is not altered, that they do not win.
But we need to do that in a cognitive way to make sure that MPs, staff and indeed the general public are kept safe.’
The MP for Bournemouth East, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack in 2017, also told the broadcaster that he had discussed the security implications of the withdrawal from Afghanistan for terrorism and extremism with Sir David last week as they visited Doha in Qatar.