Birmingham politicians pay tribute to Sir David Amess MP as police reach out to offer protection

West Midlands police is reaching out to politicians to offer protection through Operation Bridger

Birmingham’s politicians have expressed their shock and sorrow at the “horrific” death of Sir David Amess MP.

MPs will pay tribute to late Conservative MP in Parliament today (Monday) following his fatal stabbing at his constituency surgery in Leigh-on-Sea on Friday (15 October).

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It comes after 25-year-old Ali Harbi Ali was named as the only suspect in the case of Mr Amess’ murder, which has been declared a terrorist incident by police.

It also follows comments from Home Secretary Priti Patel revealing MPs could be granted police protection while conducting constituency surgeries.

West Midlands Police said: As in every force across the UK, our officers have with immediate effect begun reaching out to West Midland MPs as part of Operation Bridger.

“Op Bridger provides tactical options for protective physical security to Members in their homes and constituencies and is managed by the Parliamentary Liaison and Investigation Team (PLaIT). The PLAIT was formed in September 2016 by the MPS following the murder of MP Jo Cox and is part of the Met’s Parliamentary and Diplomatic Protection Command.

“We continue to encourage MPs to immediately report any security concerns to their local police force in order to keep themselves, their staff, families, and members of the public attending surgeries safe. Forces review MP security advice frequently, based on an assessment of changing threats and risk.

After a minute’s silence at 2.30pm today, Prime Minister Boris Johnson will open a three-hour session during which MPs will pay their respects to the deceased Southend West MP.

File photo dated 28/01/15 of David Amess attending the Paddy Power Political Book Awards at the BFI IMAX, Southbank, London. Conservative MP Sir David Amess has reportedly been stabbed several times at a surgery in his Southend West constituency. Issue date: Friday October 15, 2021. PA Photo. See PA story POLICE MP . Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA Wire

What do we know about murder suspect Ali Harbi Ali?

The suspect is believed to be of Somali heritage but is a British national.

The police are not looking for any other suspects at this time, it is believed that Mr Ali was a lone attacker.

It is understood that Mr Ali was referred to the counter-terrorist Prevent scheme some years ago, but was never a formal subject of interest to MI5.

He was later discharged from the programme, which aims to prevent radicalisation of those who are targeted by extremist organisations to become terrorists.

Mr Ali has been detained at a London police station under section 41 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

Police have until Friday 22 October to charge him with an offence.

What happened to Sir David Amess MP?

Here are five key events in the death of the Conservative MP for Southend West:

  • Friday 15 October: At midday, Tory MP Sir David Amess is stabbed multiple times at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea near Southend while attending a constituency surgery. A 25-year-old man is arrested by police. Mr Amess’ death is confirmed by Essex Police just after 5pm.
  • Friday 15 October: In a statement at 6.29pm at Southend Police Station, Essex Police chief constable Ben-Julian Harrington says the investigation into Sir David’s death will be led by counter-terrorism officers.
  • Saturday 16 October: On Saturday morning, Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Home Secretary Priti Patel and Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer arrive at Leigh-on-Sea to pay tribute to Sir David, with Mr Johnson laying a wreath at the front of Belfairs Methodist Church
  • Saturday 16 October: At 9pm, the Metropolitan Police announce in a statement they have been granted a warrant of further detention for the man arrested on suspicion of Mr Amess’ murder. The PA News Agency names the suspect as Ali Harbi Ali.
  • Sunday 17 October: Home Secretary Priti Patel tells Sky News “protection” for MPs carrying out their duties was being considered, as well as a “whole spectrum” of other measures aimed at protecting the elected members.

MPs have suspended surgeries and political groups have put campaigns for an upcoming by-election on hold following the news.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (PA/Steve Parsons)

What have Birmingham politicians said about the murder of Sir David Amess?

In a video message, West Midlands Mayor Andy Street (Con) said: “The first thing one must think about is the individual, his family, his friends.

“It’s genuinely shocking that someone has lost their life, just going about a way of life – a job that he was utterly committed to.

“He’d been an incredible member of Parliament, utterly committed to his constituents. A great Parliamentarian over many decades and we have lost a true democrat today.

“We shouldn’t speculate as to why this has happened but obviously every politician will be thinking ‘is this also an attack on the principle of free speech across the UK?’ which we will all come together to defend through thick and thin.”

A group comment from Birmingham’s Conservatives stated: “The entire Conservative group are deeply shocked and saddened by the events in Leigh-on-Sea and send our thoughts and condolences to Sir David’s family, friends and constituents.”

City council leader Cllr Ian Ward (Lab, Shard End) tweeted: “I am shocked and saddened by this terrible news. Sir David was a well liked and respected public servant.

“My thoughts and prayers are with his family at this difficult time.”

Deputy leader Cllr Brigid Jones (Lab, Bournbrook and Selly Park) said: “What has happened to David Amess is horrific and I am so desperately sorry for his family.

“The appalling murder of a man and an attack on our democracy. When politicians say they are afraid, it is real. Believe them. The abuse has to stop. David has paid the awful ultimate price.”

Gary Sambrook MP, Conservative MP for Birmingham Northfield, posted: “RIP, David. A gentleman and Parliamentarian. You will be missed.”

Shabana Mahmood MP, Labour MP for Birmingham Ladywood, said: “Devastated to hear of the death of Sir David Amess MP, who was devoted to serving his constituents.

“I can’t quite put into words the shock colleagues are feeling right now. My thoughts are entirely with David’s family and those who were closest to him.”

Birmingham City Council House

Tahir Ali MP, Labour MP for Birmingham Hall Green, said he would be suspending his surgery following the news.

He tweeted: “Devastating news. My thoughts and prayers [are with] Sir David’s family and loved ones at this tragic time.

“Sir David Amess was viciously attacked whilst serving his community. I will be suspending my surgery this evening in response.”

Birmingham Selly Oak MP Steve McCabe said: “This is the most awful news. David was a good, thoughtful and generous man. I worked with him on many cross party campaigns. My thoughts are with his wife and children.”

Birmingham’s Labour group said it would be putting its election campaign for the upcoming Yardley East by-election on hold.

A tweet from Yardley Labour said: “We are suspending all further campaigning today in the Yardley East by-election as a mark of respect following the horrific death of Sir David Amess MP.

“All our thoughts are with his family, friends and colleagues.”

The Conservatives have said they have suspended campaigning across the UK until further notice.

Deputy leader of Birmingham’s Liberal Democrat group Cllr Roger Harmer (Lib Dem, Acocks Green) said: “The Lib Dem campaign in Yardley East is also being suspended for the rest of today as a mark of respect for Sir David Amess MP.

“Our thoughts are with his friends, family and colleagues at this awful time.”

He added: “This brings it home to you that it exposes you to a risk. We have all been there in a church hall meeting people. It’s just really awful.

“Yes it has happened before and we should now all think about what we do personally and as a society to minimise the risks.”

The West Midlands Police and Crime Commissioner Simon Foster, said: “The tragic news that Sir David Amess MP was stabbed to death last week has filled us all with immense sadness.

“Naturally, it has shaken the whole country and left many MPs and politicians feeling vulnerable and concerned for their own safety.

“West Midlands Police are making contact with all MPs in the region and are currently reviewing MPs’ safety to see if there is any more that can be done to reassure Members of Parliament and to enable them to continue their important work in their constituencies.”

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