An American academic has given a graphic account of the moment the London Bridge stabbing attack began, saying it “felt like a warzone”.
Bryonn Bain told the BBC that victim Jack Merritt had been the first person to confront Usman Khan when he launched his knife assault during a prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday.
“I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee,” he said.
Vigils have taken place for Mr Merritt, 25, and second victim Saskia Jones, 23.
Three other people were also injured in the attack before Khan was shot dead by armed officers on London Bridge – two are still in hospital in a stable condition.
Prof Bain said former offenders attending the University of Cambridge-linked conference “stepped up and intervened” to tackle Khan, and people at Fishmongers’ Hall owed their lives to the actions of those who had previously spent time in jail.
He said two men from his performance poetry workshop immediately ran towards shouts from elsewhere in Fishmongers’ Hall in the City of London as the attack began, and as shouts grew louder he also went to assist.
“That’s when I ran down and saw the scene unfolding there,” he said. “I was able to see the attacker.”
He added: “It felt like a warzone… it felt like total chaos.”
Prof Bain said course co-ordinator Mr Merritt was “the first line of defence”.
“I want to honour him,” Prof Bain said of Mr Merritt. “I want to honour his father’s wishes which have been explicit to not have his life be used for political purposes to ramp up draconian policies, because that’s not what he was about.”
Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists.
Writing in the Guardian, David Merritt says his son “would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against”.
The article calls for a justice system that focuses on rehabilitation, rather than revenge, and criticises indeterminate sentences, saying his son worked for “a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key”.
Prof Bain added: “I want to make sure that as much as possible that we uphold the heroes of the day, were formerly incarcerated people, some of the folks who are often easiest to dehumanise.
“They stepped up and many of the folks in that space would not be here today if it weren’t for these guys who did time in prison and literally saved lives.”
In other developments on Monday:
- Prime Minister Boris Johnson defended his response to the attack after Mr Merritt’s father criticised newspaper coverage of Mr Johnson’s pledge to review the early release of convicted terrorists
- Mr Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn attended a vigil at the Guildhall near London Bridge to honour those caught up in the attack
- London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the best way to defeat the hatred shown in the attack was to focus on the values of hope, unity and love
- BBC News learned the attacker, Usman Khan, 28, had been under investigation by the security service MI5 since his release from prison last year, but given one of the lowest priorities. He had been convicted of a terrorism offence in 2012
- As part of his release conditions, Khan was obliged to take part in the government’s desistance and disengagement programme – which aims to rehabilitate those involved in terrorism
Vigils for the victims of the attack were also held in Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, which Ms Jones had previously attended.
Mr Merritt and Ms Jones both studied for masters degrees at the University of Cambridge’s institute of criminology and had been taking part in an event for its Learning Together programme – which focuses on education within the criminal justice system – when they were killed.
Mr Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, was a co-ordinator of the Learning Together programme and Ms Jones, from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, a volunteer
The victims’ families paid tribute to their loved ones at the weekend.
Ms Jones’s family said their daughter had a “great passion” for supporting victims of criminal justice.
In a statement, Mr Merritt’s family described him as a “talented boy” who “died doing what he loved”.
Toby Williamson, chief executive of Fishmongers’ Hall, praised the bravery of his staff who intervened to stop the attacker, hailing their actions as “extraordinary things done by ordinary people”.
Mr Williamson told how Polish chef Lukasz suffered five wounds to his left-hand side as he fended off the knifeman with a narwhal tusk during “about a minute of one-on-one straight combat” – allowing others time to escape danger.
A group of hall staff, ex-offenders, prison and probation staff are believed to have drawn Khan out on to London Bridge where he was subsequently shot dead by armed police.
Khan, who admitted preparing terrorist acts in 2012, was released from prison in December 2018 after serving half of his sentence.
The BBC understands Khan was formally under investigation by MI5 as he left jail but placed in the second-to-bottom category of investigations as his initial risk to the public was thought to be minimal.
This was consistent with the grading given to most other people convicted of terrorism offences as they go back into the community under a release licence.
A low level of prioritisation is assigned to offenders such as Khan because their release comes with a strict set of licence conditions.
These conditions theoretically provide suitable monitoring and oversight, such as alerts if they contact other suspects or travel outside an approved area.
Khan, the BBC has learned, was on the highest-level of such community monitoring. The overall package, in theory, relieves pressure on MI5 so the security service can focus on more immediate threats.
Friday was the first time that Khan, who wore a GPS tag, had been permitted to travel to London since he left prison. The BBC has been told that – earlier in the year – Khan was refused permission to travel to Stoke-on-Trent, which is where he grew up, in order to attend a social event.
The prime minister said on Sunday that 74 people jailed for terror offences and released early would have their licence conditions reviewed..
Police said two terror-related arrests following Friday’s incident, in Staffordshire and north London, were not directly connected to the London Bridge attack.
It came after the UK’s terrorism threat level was downgraded on 4 November from “severe” to “substantial”, meaning that attacks were thought to be “likely” rather than “highly likely”.
The Football Association will not investigate Forest Green head coach Mark Cooper after it was alleged he made an “unacceptable” jibe about late Leyton Orient boss Justin Edinburgh.
O’s interim manager Ross Embleton was sent off in Saturday’s defeat by Rovers for throwing chewing gum at Cooper.
He claimed Cooper labelled him “an impostor” and asked: “Who do you think you are, Justin Edinburgh?”
Cooper denied the claim and said he was pleased the FA acted “swiftly”.
“I’m pleased the FA have given such a swift and clear statement on this matter,” Cooper said in a statement on Forest Green’s website.
“I can assure everybody that nothing like that was said – it’s wrong that Justin’s name was dragged into this. We’re now focused on a really important game against Crewe Alexandra.”
Embleton was originally placed in interim charge of Orient following Edinburgh’s death in June. He was re-appointed to the post when the club sacked Carl Fletcher earlier this month after just 29 days in charge.
In a statement following Saturday’s match, Forest Green chairman Dale Vince told BBC Sport that Cooper and Edinburgh were “close friends” and both the referee and fourth official had confirmed to the club that neither had heard any such remarks during the game.
Cooper, who has been in charge of Forest Green since May 2016, made no mention of the first-half incident in his post-match interview, in which he described the atmosphere as “hostile”.
England head coach Eddie Jones fears some Saracens players could skip the Six Nations campaign to help their club avoid relegation after a 35-point deduction for salary cap breaches.
The deduction leaves the Premiership champions bottom of the table. They have also been fined £5.36m.
Sarries supplied six of the team who started for England in the 32-12 defeat by South Africa in the World Cup final.
“It could have a significant impact,” Jones told BBC Sport.
“It’s something we need to weigh up and look at very carefully.”
Saracens have decided not to appeal against the punishments imposed upon them for infringements over the past three seasons so go from third place to bottom of the Premiership on -22 points, 26 behind second-bottom Leicester.
Jones selected six of their players for the final in Yokohama, led by captain Owen Farrell. The others were Mako and Billy Vunipola, hooker Jamie George, second row Maro Itoje and full-back Elliott Daly, who is yet to play for the club after his summer move from Wasps.
“Obviously there may be some dislocation between Saracens players and the rest of the clubs,” said Jones, who was Saracens’ director of rugby in 2008-09. “That’s a reality.
“So we may have to work to mend those relationships a bit harder, and there might be some Saracens players who feel like they’ve got to play for their club instead of their country, to make sure they don’t go down. So we’ll weigh all those up as they come about.”
Former Sarries and England scrum-half Kyran Bracken believed Jones was correct to be concerned.
“Country comes first traditionally, but the players will feel a sense of loyalty to the club having won so much with them,” the 47-year-old told the BBC News Channel.
“The thought of potentially leaving comrades in the lurch and leaving young guys to it… some will decide to concentrate on Saracens.”
‘I didn’t realise how strong the class structure was’
Ensuring any issues between Saracens players and the rest of the squad do not do any damage is the latest challenge Jones must face as England coach.
Earlier he told BBC Radio 5 Live that the biggest hurdle he faced when he first took the job in January 2016 was getting to grips with the cultural differences within the group.
“I didn’t realise the how strong the class structure was in England, and how that affects the relationships between the players,” the Australian said.
“When you look at the England team from the outside it looks like a very homogeneous group but in fact it’s very diverse and there probably hasn’t been enough understanding of the diversity of the group.
“We spent a lot of time in our World Cup prep making sure we understood the value of diversity.”
A report this year revealed that 37% of male British rugby union internationals came from fee-paying schools.
Jones, who hails from a working class suburb of Sydney, was asked whether the difference came down to the stereotypical rugby divide of “posh public schoolboys and state school kids”.
“Something like that, yeah,” he said.
“If you’ve got a group of people in here now and you’ve got five Japanese people, five Australians and five South Africans, they’ll tend to congregate together and that’s OK if they’re not playing as a team.
“But if those 15 are playing as a team then you want that to be completely mixed, and they’re the subtle things I was reasonably slow to pick up on.”
The Green Party has stood down its candidate to help Labour try to unseat former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.
Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for Chingford and Woodford Green since 1997, and has a majority of 2,348.
The Green Party, Liberal Democrats and Plaid Cymru formed an electoral pact earlier this month. Supporting Labour in Chingford does not form part of that pact, the Greens said.
The Conservatives have been contacted for comment.
In a statement the local Green Party said the decision for John Tyne not to contest the election was made with the “ultimate hope of favouring the campaign of the Labour candidate” Faiza Shaheen.
A Green Party spokesperson it “was a decision taken by the local party”.
However, they added: “If Labour were serious in their concern for the environment they should reconsider their isolationist position on arrangements.”
Ms Shaheen, head of the Centre for Labour and Social Studies, said she was “so grateful” for the decision.
She said: “I will continue to fight hard for climate policy and democratic reform.”
The Liberal Democrats have selected Dr Geoffrey Seeff as their prospective parliamentary candidate for the constituency.
Mr Duncan Smith has been MP for the area since 1992, representing Chingford until 1997 when the boundaries were re-drawn to include Woodford Green.
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Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante is back in the squad for Tuesday’s Champions League Group H game with Ajax.
Kante, 28, has made just five starts in an injury-hit season, most recently suffering a groin problem.
“We’ve been able to get some work into him, he’s in the squad and he’s available,” said manager Frank Lampard.
Midfielder Ross Barkley (ankle) and defender Andreas Christensen (thigh) are also in training after injury lay-offs last month.
Victory at Stamford Bridge would see Chelsea go three points clear of Ajax in Group H and put them in a strong position to progress to the quarter-finals, with games against Valencia and Lille remaining.
“I said at the start that this group would be tight because all the teams could take points off each other. That has been proved to be correct,” said Lampard.
“After losing the opening game against Valencia, which was disappointing, we have shown a great reaction from that.
“I have to accept it’s expected of Chelsea to go through and that is no disrespect to any other teams. I have said already how hard the group is but it is more about our own expectations.
“That is maybe why we had that reaction. We wanted to prove ourselves, we wanted to go to Ajax and Lille and get results, and we did.
“But we won’t get carried away with ourselves in this group.”
Can Chelsea maintain 100% record against Dutch sides? – the stats
- Ajax have never lost an away Champions League match in England (W1 D3 L0), winning most recently away at Spurs in April 2019. Their last away European Cup defeat on English soil was in April 1980, a 2-0 semi-final defeat against Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest side.
- Chelsea have a 100%-win record in Champions League matches against Dutch opponents, beating Feyenoord twice in the 1999-2000 season and Ajax this season.
- Ajax have won their last five away Champions League matches – prior to this run, the Dutch side had won just four of their previous 38 away games in the competition (W4 D13 L21).
- Ajax manager Erik ten Hag has managed more away UEFA Champions League games without losing than any other manager (seven games), winning five and drawing two. Only two managers have lost none of their first eight away games in the competition – Louis van Gaal (first 14 games) and Pep Guardiola (first 11 games).
- Chelsea striker Michy Batshuayi has scored one goal every 47 minutes for the Blues in the Champions League (3 goals in 141 minutes) – the best minutes per goal ratio of any Chelsea player in the competition.
- Dusan Tadic has been directly involved in eight of Ajax’s last 14 goals scored in the group stage of the Champions League (five goals, three assists), including six of their last seven away from home (three goals, three assists).
Former Labour MP Luciana Berger is to fight the seat of Finchley and Golders Green in north London for the Liberal Democrats at the next election.
She has chosen not to contest her current seat, Liverpool Wavertree, which she has represented since 2010.
Ms Berger quit Labour in February, blaming a culture of anti-Semitism in the party and personal attacks on her.
The Lib Dems came third in the London seat in 2017, but hope to do better due to their Brexit opposition.
The Jewish MP was a founding member of the Change UK party which launched in the run-up to the European Parliament elections in May.
However, she quit the party after its poor performance and joined the Lib Dems earlier this month.
In a letter addressed to her Liverpool Wavertree constituents posted on Twitter, Ms Berger says she made the decision with her husband, with whom she has two children.
“Balancing personal and and professional responsibilities is complicated for everyone,” she writes.
“As a family, we have had to make a decision about how best to navigate work and raising our young children.”
She adds they had decided to move to London after the next general election “after a great deal of thought”.
In a statement, Liverpool Wavertree Lib Dems said they regretted her decision to contest a different seat but “understood the reasons for doing so”.
Richard Kemp, who leads the Liberal Democrat group on Liverpool Council, said Ms Berger had been subject to “appalling anti-Semitism and gender bullying” during her time representing Labour in the constituency.
She has spoken of receiving thousands of anti-Semitic taunts online, as well as death threats.
An internet troll who sent anti-Semitic messages to Ms Berger and other victims was jailed for more than two years in 2017.
Liverpool Wavertree has been regarded as a safe Labour seat since boundary changes in the 1990s. The Lib Dems came third with less than three 3,000 votes in 2017.
In contrast, Finchley and Golders Green is a marginal seat which has fluctuated between the Conservatives and Labour since it was created in 1997.
According to the UK Polling Report, the constituency has the largest Jewish population of any seat in the UK, with more than 20% of residents describing themselves as Jewish in the 2011 census. It is also a heavily pro-Remain constituency.
The Lib Dems had selected Clareine Enderby to contest the seat.
Under different boundaries, the constituency of Finchley was represented by former Conservative leader Margaret Thatcher for more than 30 years between 1959 and 1992.
Conservative Mike Freer retained the new seat with a 1,657 majority in 2017, an election in which the Liberal Democrats received only 3,463 votes.
Ms Berger’s move follows that of her fellow Lib Dem Chuka Umunna, who has decided to fight the seat of the Cities of London and Westminster, rather than Streatham in south London, whose MP he has been since 2010.
Police surrounded flats in east London when a man barricaded himself in and threatened to blow up the block.
Nearby residents in Barking were forced to leave their homes after the man also threatened to burn down the building.
Fire and ambulance crews were called to Elsdown House, Wheelers Cross, late on Tuesday, although there were no injuries reported.
A man was later detained and was given medical treatment by paramedics at the scene, the Met Police said.
Evacuated residents, who had been told to go to The Gascoigne Community Centre, in St Ann’s, were later told they could return home.