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Father of London terror victim asks that his son's image isn't used for 'vile propaganda' in newspapers

Victims Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt had been attending a prisoner rehabilitation conference.

Floral tributes to the victims of Friday's attack.
Floral tributes to the victims of Friday's attack.
Image: Yui Mok/PA Images

THE FATHER OF one of the two young people killed in Friday’s terror attack in London has asked UK newspapers not to use his death to spread “hatred, division and ignorance”.

Former University of Cambridge students Saskia Jones, 23, and Jack Merritt, 25, were fatally stabbed by 28-year-old convicted terrorist Usman Khan in the attack.

Khan was on licence and wearing an electronic monitoring tag when he launched the attack, which injured three others, after he was invited to the prisoner rehabilitation conference on Friday afternoon.

Both Jones and Merritt had been attending the conference. 

The attack has prompted the UK’s Ministry of Justice to review the licence conditions of every convicted terrorist released from prison, which Prime Minister Boris Johnson said was “probably about 74” people.

In a lengthy Twitter thread yesterday, Johnson said the case “highlighted a complicated area of law” and blamed “Labour’s 2008 law” for Khan’s release. 

“Those changes meant that although four senior judges considered that Khan was dangerous, he was to be automatically released half-way through because of Labour’s 2008 law. That is why we are determined to change this & ensure dangerous terrorists serve their full sentence,” Johnson said 

Writer and blogger The Secret Barrister accused Johnson’s thread of plagiarising their work also said it was false to say that “terrorists are automatically released early from their sentences”.

After Johnson announced plans to change the laws relating to the imprisonment of terrorists, a number of UK newspapers championed the move with the Daily Mail reporting a ‘New Blitz on Freed Jihadis’. 

When these headlines were announced last night, father of Jack Merritt accused the newspapers of promoting “vile propaganda” and urged them not to use his son’s image. 

Both victims of the attack had received an MPhil in Criminology from the University of Cambridge.

Merritt’s family said the 25-year-old, from Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, died “doing what he loved” and had been looking forward to pursuing a career helping people in the criminal justice system and building a future with girlfriend Leanne.

“He lit up our lives and the lives of his many friends and colleagues, and we will miss him terribly,” the statement said.

But they asked for his death not to be used to justify introducing “even more draconian sentences” on offenders.

The family statement continued: “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.

Source: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

Saskia Jones, a volunteer with the scheme 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.”

- With reporting by Press Association 

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Rónán Duffy

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