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Candlelit vigil held in honour of MP David Amess

Crowds carrying lanterns and candles gathered in darkness to pay tribute to the murdered MP.

LAST UPDATE | 16 Oct 2021

HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE attended a candlelit vigil in memory of MP David Amess, who was stabbed to death while meeting constituents.

Crowds carrying lanterns and candles gathered in darkness at Belfairs sports ground in Leigh-on-Sea in Essex on Saturday to honour David, who was killed the day before.

The field is where an air ambulance had landed on Friday, as paramedics tried in vain to save the father-of-five at the nearby Belfairs Methodist Church.

At the vigil, Southend councillor Alan Dear addressed those gathered in a circle around dozens of glowing candles on the grass.

embedded263099152 David Amess was remembered at a vigil (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

“For me, and I know for all of you because you’re here, it’s been a terrible 24 hours for all of us,” he said.

He went on: “For me, (David) was a good friend, and I know he was a good friend to all of you here.

“He spent 40 years of his life caring for the constituents of Basildon and Southend. He was a very kind, loving, gentle man.”

‘Will not be cowed’

The British Home Secretary earlier said that politicians will not be “cowed” following the fatal stabbing of MP David Amess, which police believe may be linked to Islamist extremism.

Priti Patel visited the scene at Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea on Saturday morning alongside Prime Minister Boris Johnson, Labour leader Keir Starmer and Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle to pay their respects to David, less than 24 hours after he was killed at a constituency surgery.

Patel said security measures were being put in place to protect MPs but vowed they will carry on serving the country unimpeded in the face of the attack, which the Metropolitan Police have declared was a terrorist incident.

Speaking at Southend Police Station, the Home Secretary said: “We will carry on, we live in an open society, a democracy. We cannot be cowed by any individual or any motivation… to stop us from functioning, to serve our elected democracy.”

Asked whether there could be a balance between the safety of MPs and the democratic process, she said: “It can be balanced, it can absolutely be balanced.”

‘Most fundamental act of a politician’ 

President of Ireland Michael D Higgins paid tribute to Amess earlier today, saying that he had been “murdered while carrying out that most fundamental act of a politician, meeting with his constituents” and assisting them.

“May I express my deepest sympathies to the family, friends, colleagues in Parliament and constituents of Sir David Amess,” he said, “All of those who value representative politics will think also today of the family of the late Jo Cox, who was taken from her family in June 2016.

“I know that all those who serve the people of the United Kingdom will have been deeply affected by these two murders and on behalf of the Irish people, I send them our deepest sympathies.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson laid flowers at the scene of the fatal stabbing earlier. of MP David Amess, which police believe could be linked to Islamist extremism.

Johnson, accompanied by Labour leader Keir Starmer, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle and Patel, laid a wreath at the front of Belfairs Methodist Church in Leigh-on-Sea, where Amess was killed.

It came after Scotland Yard said the country’s most senior counter-terror officer, Deputy Assistant Commissioner Dean Haydon, has formally declared the incident as terrorism and said early investigations have revealed “a potential motivation linked to Islamist extremism”.

Amess, 69, who had been an MP since 1983, was fatally injured while meeting constituents.

A 25-year-old man arrested at the scene on suspicion of murder is in custody at an Essex police station.

Official sources told the PA news agency the man is believed to be a British national with Somali heritage.

As part of the investigation, officers are also carrying out searches at two addresses in the London area, the Met said. 

southend-on-sea-essex-uk-the-final-count-has-just-been-announced-for-the-southend-west-constituency-with-conservative-sir-david-amess-holding-on-to-the-seat-he-has-held-since-1997 David Amess Alamy Stock Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Amess’ death has prompted police forces to contact all MPs to discuss their security and personal safety.

Veteran Labour MP Harriet Harman said she will be writing to the Prime Minister asking him to back a Speaker’s Conference to review the safety of parliamentarians.

Tory MP Tobias Ellwood, who was hailed as a hero for his attempts to save the life of Pc Keith Palmer during the Westminster terror attack, said face-to-face meetings with MPs should be paused until a security review has been completed.

Investigators believe Amess’ killer acted alone and are not seeking anyone else in connection with his death.

According to reports, the knifeman was waiting among a group of people to see Amess at the church and launched the attack shortly after the MP arrived.

Local councillor John Lamb, who arrived at the scene shortly after the incident, told the Daily Mail Amess was with two female members of staff – one from his constituency office and one from his parliamentary office – when a man “literally got a knife out and just began stabbing him”.

Chief Constable of Essex Police Ben-Julian Harrington said the Southend West MP was “simply dispensing his duties when his life was horrifically cut short”.

Tory veteran Amess, who was described by Johnson as “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics” was married with five children.

The attack came five-and-a-half years after Labour MP Jo Cox was killed by a far-right extremist in her Batley and Spen constituency in West Yorkshire.

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