Vigils held for victims of London Bridge terror attack

Flowers laid for victims at Mansion House, London. Pic: Caitlin Griffith

Vigils have taken place in London and Cambridge to pay tribute to the victims killed in Friday’s London Bridge terror attack and to honour the “heroism of ordinary Londoners” and emergency services who responded to the incident.

The London remembrance service for Jack Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, took place at Guildhall Yard, less than a mile from where the attack happened and was attended by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Mayor of London Sadiq Khan.  

Following a minute’s silence, Khan said: “The best way to defeat this hatred is not by turning on one another but it’s by focussing on the values that bind us. To take hope from the heroism of ordinary Londoners and our emergency services who ran towards danger, risking their lives to help people they didn’t even know.”

“It’s also by drawing inspiration from the lives of Jack and Saskia who from an early age chose to dedicate themselves to helping others. London will never be cowed or intimidated by terrorism.”

 The victims had been attending an event at Fishmongers’ Hall marking five years of Cambridge University’s Learning Together programme when they were killed.  

The scheme offers students in higher education and offenders the opportunity to study together with the long-term aim of rehabilitating prisoners.   

The victims, both former University of Cambridge students, were fatally stabbed by Usman Khan, a 28-year-old convicted terrorist who was present at the event. He was shot dead by police on London Bridge.  

Police near the scene at London Bridge. Pic: James Bayley

A book of condolences is open at the Guildhall Art Gallery, and the public have been invited to lay flowers outside Mansion House.  

A vigil also took place in Cambridge and was attended by friends and family of the victims.  

In a statement, Saskia Jones’ family said their daughter, from Stratford-upon-Avon, had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.  

“Saskia was a funny, kind, positive influence at the centre of many people’s lives… She had a wonderful sense of mischievous fun and was generous to the point of always wanting to see the best in all people.”  

In a statement, Jack Merritt’s family said: “Jack lived his principles; he believed in redemption and rehabilitation, not revenge, and he always took the side of the underdog… We know Jack would not want this terrible, isolated incident to be used as a pretext by the government for introducing even more draconian sentences on prisoners, or for detaining people in prison for longer than necessary.”  

Speaking to the BBC, Cambridge University’s vice-chancellor Professor Stephen Toope said the fact the victims were killed by someone they were trying to help “is the greatest tragedy of all.” 

Usman Khan, from Stoke, was released from prison on licence in December 2018, halfway through his 16-year prison sentence. He was wearing an electronic monitoring tag at the time of the attack. 

A 34-year-old man named in reports as  Nazam Hussain, was arrested in Stoke in the wake of the attack and has been recalled to prison following a review of convicted terrorists out on licence.

According to West Midlands Police the recall was due to a suspected breach of his licence conditions. He was jailed with Usman in 2012 for terrorism offences and had been released early on licence after appealing against his original indeterminate sentence.  

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