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Father of London Bridge victim says he'd be 'livid his death has been used to further agenda of hate'

Writing in the Guardian today, David Merritt said his son Jack “believed in the inherent goodness of humanity”.

incident-on-london-bridge Tributes to Jack Merritt and Saskia Jones on London Bridge. Source: Rick Findler/PA Images

THE FATHER OF London Bridge terror victim Jack Merritt has said his son would be “livid” that his death is being used to further an “agenda of hate”.

Cambridge University graduates Merritt, 25, and Saskia Jones, 23, were both stabbed to death by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan during a prisoner rehabilitation event they were supporting in London on Friday.

An American academic at the event told the BBC yesterday that Jack was the first person to confront the knifeman, adding: “I saw people die, I saw things that I will never be able to unsee.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has faced criticism for attempting to politicise the attack, as he moved to blame sentencing and early release laws, as well as the Labour party, in an interview with BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday.

The family of Merritt, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, asked for his death to not to be used to justify introducing “even more draconian sentences” on offenders in a heartfelt tribute released on Sunday.

And in a tweet on Sunday evening referring to coverage of the attack, his father David said: “Don’t use my son’s death, and his and his colleague’s photos – to promote your vile propaganda.

“Jack stood against everything you stand for – hatred, division, ignorance.”

Writing for the Guardian’s front page today, he said his son would be “livid” if he could comment on his death.

He would be seething at his death, and his life, being used to perpetuate an agenda of hate that he gave his everything fighting against.
We should never forget that. What Jack would want from this is for all of us to walk through the door he has booted down, in his black Doc Martens.

“That door opens up a world where we do not lock up and throw away the key.

“Where we do not give indeterminate sentences, or convict people on joint enterprise.

Where we do not slash prison budgets, and where we focus on rehabilitation not revenge.
Where we do not consistently undermine our public services, the lifeline of our nation.

“Jack believed in the inherent goodness of humanity, and felt a deep social responsibility to protect that. Through us all, Jack marches on.”

Vigil

His father’s comments came after Merritt’s girlfriend broke down in tears as she attended a vigil in his memory in Cambridge earlier yesterday.

Leanne O’Brien wept and clutched a cuddly toy as she was supported by family and friends at the event, which also honoured Saskia Jones.

The Cambridge vigil took place as Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn stood side by side to pay their respects at a separate event at Guildhall Yard in London, observing a minute’s silence alongside members of the public.

They were joined by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan, who called for people to come together following the killings and work for a future “not defined by hatred but defined by hope, unity and love”.

Merritt’s father said his son “devoted his energy” to the programme, adding: “He lived and breathed fire in his pursuit of a better world for all humanity, particularly those most in need.”

Saskia Jones, a volunteer with Learning Together from Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, was described as having a “great passion” for providing support to victims of crime by her family.

In a statement they said: “She was intent on living life to the full and had a wonderful thirst for knowledge, enabling her to be the best she could be.

“Saskia had a great passion for providing invaluable support to victims of criminal injustice, which led her to the point of recently applying for the police graduate recruitment programme, wishing to specialise in victim support.”

London Bridge was reopened yesterday, while a police cordon remains in place on the west footpath near Fishmongers’ Hall.

No-one else is being sought over the attack.

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